Title: The Reluctant Matador (Hugo Marston 5)
Author: Mark Pryor
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Publication Date: 2015
Hugo Marston plans to meet Amy, daughter of his good friend Bart Denum, at a café in Paris. When the 19-year-old aspiring model doesn’t show, Hugo begins to make some inquires. As a security chief at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, Hugo knows a few things about stories and Amy’s doesn’t seem to add up. He comes to discover that instead of modeling, she is working as an exotic dancer, and she has left Paris for Barcelona with a shady character. Amy is more than just Bart’s daughter, she was the only survivor in a car crash that killed both Hugo and Bart’s wives many years earlier.
Enlisting the aid of his brilliant, yet unpredictable, friend former CIA agent Tom Green, the two travel to Barcelona in search of their only clue: the man who Amy left with. They gain the attention of the Barcelona Police Force when they are caught breaking into the company who employs the man. Their troubles increase when they discover the body of a man and standing over him is Bart Denum. Bart proclaims his innocence but the Barcelona authorities arrest him for murder.
In a race against time, Hugo, Tom, journalist friend Claudia, and the Barcelona Police must work together to find the real killer, prove Bart’s innocence, and discover Amy’s whereabouts before there is any more violence. What they discover is treachery and violence on a much grander scale and the stakes are even greater.
I discovered the Hugo Marston series at Book People in Austin; Mark Pryor is a Texas author. With stories set in Paris, I was intrigued by his first book because it dealt with old books and booksellers along the Seine. I immediately was intrigued by Hugo’s complex, yet inviting personality. The perspective on an American in Paris combined with a “non-stuffy” police crime story provides a unique twist. Hugo’s friend Tom is both a brilliant and broken; his character adds a tragic comic feel. There is a great combination of adventure and character development that keeps the reader engaged. It is fascinating to see how politics and police procedurals vary in different countries but the stories do not bog the reader down in procedurals.
The relationship between Hugo and Claudia has also developed over the course of the books and her role as both a female and a journalist presents yet another interesting angle.
Who might like this book:
The plot in The Reluctant Matador is complex but not convoluted. There is a lot of adventure and Hugo is truly a likeable character. I have never been to Paris but upon reading these books, I really get the feel of what life is like there.
I am always amazed and impressed by authors who write so confidently about different countries and really make the reader feel like they are immersed in that locale. Mark Pryor is a Brit, living in Texas, and writing about Barcelona and Paris. Readers who enjoy a good adventure crime story with great characters and a fascinating setting may enjoy these books.
I highly recommend starting at the beginning of the series and reading the books in order.
The Crypt Thief
The Blood Promise
The Button Man