Or the Bull Kills You
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Or the Bull Kills You (Chief Inspector Max Cámara #1)

3.34 of 5 stars 3.34  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  39 reviews
An accomplished debut mystery set in the high-stakes and decidedly murky world of bullfighting in Valencia, Spain

"Either you kill the bull, or the bull kills you." Chief Inspector Max Cámara thinks in proverbs,and he hates one thing above all: bullfighting. One hot afternoon in Valencia, however,he has tostand inforhis boss, judging a festival corrida starring Spain’s mos...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 13th 2011 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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It's always a bonus when you pick up a book and become instantly transported to another place, culture and lifestyle -- something the author of this series does exceptionally well. The characters come across as secretive, even enigmatic, including the protagonist Chief Inspector Max Camara. While this may aggravate some readers, it can work to a series' advantage, tantalizing us with a sprinkling of insights and clues into a character's motivation and backstory.

Where the series falls a bit shor...more
Ian Mapp
Start of a crime series - chosen at random in Worcester Library and not a bad choice.

Max Camara is a fairly shambolic cop - dope smoking, too much drinking, problems with women. Usual cliche.

The book, as the Title describes, is all about bull fighting. This is the first part of the book that works well. The culture, history and terminology is well explained and balanced, as there is a strong anti bull figting message as well as capturing the reader in the drama.

The 2nd part that works well is Va...more
First mystery novel that I have read that takes place is Spain and I really enjoyed it. The main premise of story focuses upon the murder of one of Spain's most famous bullfighters. Inspector Camara is put on the case even though he dislikes bullfighting. It is your typical murder mystery in an atypical setting. Bullfighting in itself is a pretty interesting topic and by reading this book, you get a good idea of the current politics that are involved in it. (The anti-bullfighting sentiment vs. t...more
An excellent debut and the basis - one hopes - for a series. Valencia Chief Inspector Max Camara is a good, but somewhat cynical cop and no fan of bull fights. When he is deputed by his boss to judge a bullfight starring Spain's most famous torero, he accepts reluctantly.

When the torero is found murdered and mutilated later that evening, it becomes Carera's case. The bullfighter's agent is found murdered soon after, and there is a question about whether there is doping by one of the area's lead...more
Peter Boysen
First of all, I'm willing to concede that I've read too many mysteries lately. The newest C.J. Box offering, for example, Cold Wind, answered all of my questions about Joe Pickett's mother-in-law, in a way that was much too easy, with some preaching about wind turbine energy that I found just as annoying as I find all of that dreck that Nathaniel Hawthorne lined The Scarlet Letter with, in order to transform it from a 50-page story into a novel.

Of course, I may also just need to change genres fo...more
Oliver Gordon
With this enjoyable book I could immerse myself in the intrigues and mysteries of the world of bullfighting without having to attend one. Max Camara loathes the bullfight yet he has to inform himself about them and is soon in up to his neck in the dirty business going on behind the scenes of glamour and passion at the bullring . The top matador has been murdered and Max Camara has to solve the crime. Some of these anti bullfighting people are pretty nasty and maybe the anti bullfight people aren...more
I really liked it. I might be biased because I love Spain and am learning Spanish so I took delight in deciphering the Spanish phrases and in feeling like I was walking the streets of Valencia with Camara. I thought the bullfighting angle was clever and though some might think otherwise I didn't think the plot was over saturated in bullfighting facts, myths and metaphors - I enjoyed it and felt like I was getting a crash course in the complexity of modern day Spain and it's bizarre and barbaric...more
Mar 20, 2013 Tuck rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: noir, spain
a debut mystery novel, starred reviews in lib journals, murder cop procedural, our main man, max cAmara is the grandson of anarchist labor union dude, but he is a cop in city of valenica, so there is tension there, then of course our main man is an inveterate pot smoker, a wake-n-bake sort of cop, plus he keeps brandy in the office which is usually almost empty because he forgets to buy more (hmmm), plus smokes like a freight train, does'nt get any sleep, gets dumped by his long time girl friend...more
I really enjoy reading mysteries set abroad because the author tends to bring so much of the local flair and culture, both the good and the bad. I have never been to Spain and all I knew about bullfighting was what I learned from cartoons as a child (i.e.: angry snorting bull, red flag), so Mr. Webster had a big task ahead of him when I picked up this book. He did a fantastic job at explaining the history of bullfighting and the significance it has to the local culture. But the thing I really ap...more
Sandra Danby
This is the second of Jason Webster's stories about Spanish detective Max Cámara. The setting is Valencia during Fallas, the five-day festival of fireworks and bonfires. A bullfighter is murdered, a controversial bullfighter, in a city undergoing local elections and with a strong anti-taurino lobby. Webster has chosen his setting well, Valencia is a noisy, shouting, breathing presence on every page. The bullfighting is strange, a world of customs and special language, its symbolism machismo. Int...more
Rob Kitchin
The real strength of Or The Bull Kills You is the sense of place, the detailing of the history and culture of bullfighting, and the insights into the political machinations of local politics and the police system. The characterisation is relatively standard fare: Camara is the talented but awkward cop who rails against the system and falls easily into women’s beds; the other characters are fine without lighting up the page. The plot works okay until near the end, when it starts to become a littl...more
I read Webster's Duende over 20 years ago and can still remember it well and so when I saw that he has written a series of crime novels, I was thrilled.

The third in the series was recommended, but I decided to go back to the first in the series, hence my reading of 'Or the Bull Kills You'.

The subject matter of bullfighting in Spain was not one that I have any interest in, but the Valencian festival of the Falla is one that I would like to experience.

I didn't really get a good picture of the mai...more
As a window into contemporary Spain, this could be useful. I now have a much better understanding, for example, of Falles in Valencia. And, even a sense of the city's layout. I think, however, that this would be most useful to someone who already "knows" Valencia and wants to see it represented in a novel. For someone about to travel to Spain, I wouldn't put this atop a (short) list of must reads. For someone who enjoys the genre, it's fun. Writing a bit sloppy at times (as in holes in the narra...more
Rob Innis
I think it is true that some books you really don't want to put down and can't wait to pick up again. But, for me, this is not one of them. A lot of tell and not show, long passages without dialogue, irrelevant information (the author trying to convince himself, not trusting the reader to be following the plot?) all added to this not being a classic. I am not even sure Camara, the main protagonist, is very much different to a lot of other ficitonal detectives - drinker, smoker, women problems, r...more
a novel set in Spain, in the town of Valencia. all about anti-bullfighting/ pro-bullfighting and politics. I enjoyed the mentions of local foods. (drooling over the Paellas), but there seemed to be too many characters that don't add to the story, but end up being important last minute. and I was hoping for a different kind of detective- but here again, the detective who drinks too much, grouchy and not following the rules and is attracted to the sexy reporter.
the bullfighting background and hist...more
This was a pretty good book. The plot developed nicely and there was a little bit of a surprise at the end. I was sometimes taken aback by the Spanish in it, especially where it seemed like the author didnt translate it, but it didn't bother me. Also I felt like there were a lot of characters to keep up with and keep straight and that was confusing at times. However overall it was an entertaining book. Thanks for the sweepstakes win, good reads! :)
Colin David
The murder of Spain's famous young Matador in Valencia during the Festival of Fallas ( a week long street party with firecrackers), is the theme of this book. Max Camara is the chief inspector (The Rebus of Valencia!) who is pot smoking brandy swilling, smoker who is concerned about his own virility. great plot and interesting set for the plot to unfold. It also gives a great insight into the murky world of bull fighting. Looking forward to the next book.
Rosie Amber
This book is a mystery set in Valencia, Spain and follows the police as they hunt for the killer of a famous bull fighter. The subject of bull fighting is quite controversial both in the book and across the world. There are several types of Spanish police forces to get you head around and the hunt for the killer is hampered by festivities and local elections, while Chief Inspector Camara has his own personal issues to deal with aswell as solving the case.
Marc 'sparky'
Having read all of Jason Webster's other books it's safe to say I'm a fan. When I heard he was releasing a thriller I was intrigued. Suffice to say I was not disappointed. His usual style (IMHO) of great storytelling interspersed with surprising and interesting historical/cultural information lends itself really well to a crime thriller. I for one cannot wait for Max Camara's next case!
I enjoyed this book, but more for the mythology, or perhaps mysticism, of the bullfight. (I've seen bullfights in Mexico and Spain and have never really understood why people enjoy them. Bullfights don't sicken me but I think the matador has an unfair advantage--the bull has been weakened by the picadors and banderilleros before he steps into the ring.)

Geir Ruud
A good read. Lovely surroundings, atmosphere and cast. It's like revisiting Valencia and the bullfighting arena. Can be read both by aficionados and anti-taurinos (those supporting a ban of bullfights). Websters use of Spanish proverbs gives a stronger feeling of being in Valencia. Is Max Cámara the new Javier Falcon?
Based in Valencia, Chief Inspector Max Camera solves the murder of Spain's No 1 bullfighter.
A good insight into the Spanish police force, Spanish politics and the reasons why bull fighting is so popular.
An easy read but the murder was solved through just one too many clues which had been stumbled on.
Robert Intriago
The bullfighting and the fiesta in Valencia make this book interesting and worthwhile reading. The mystery leaves a lot to be desired. The story does not flow very easily and the characters are hard to follow. The main character is good, has a lot of charm and is unorthodox for a police detective.
A fully realized place (Valencia, Spain), an attractive central character (a homicide chief inspector), and a crime revolving around what's either a memorable sport or a depraved cultural carryover from the medieval world (bullfighting) are all strong supports for an otherwise ordinary mystery.
The background to bull fighting and city of Valencia are what makes this story. Going to find other titles by this author. Made me go to YouTube to view bull fights and despite having been to one in Madrid many years ago, I don't think I would be able to do it again.
What a good read! Valencia, Fallas festival, police, politics, bull fighting history and action.....food, romance and more than enough action. Perhaps the best chases I have read on foot..... Colorful descriptions and I hope to read more of Max Camara....
Nov 26, 2011 Jayw added it
Troubled Valencian homicide detective Max Camara gets the call when Spain's hottest matador is ritualistically murdered. If he screws this up he is done in the force. If he gets it rights, things may go worse for him.
Shelly Brander
Good easy to read mystery. Love the descriptions of one of my favorite towns, Valencia
Ami Travillian-vonesh
A compelling main character, good plot, set in Valencia Spain, a city I don't know personally but now would like to. It fits my main priority of making me feel like I'm someplace else.
I won this book off of goodreads. I have to say in the begining it really did not catch my attention but after the first chapter it got a lot better. i enjoyed the story.
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Jason Webster is a highly acclaimed Anglo-American author and authority on Spain whose work ranges from biography to travel, crime fiction and history. His books have sold in over a dozen countries, including the US, the UK and China, and have been nominated both for the Guardian First Book Award and the Crime Writers’ Association New Blood Dagger Award. He has been favourably compared with writer...more
More about Jason Webster...
Duende: A Journey Into the Heart of Flamenco Andalus: Unlocking The Secrets Of Moorish Spain Guerra A Death in Valencia Sacred Sierra: A Year on a Spanish Mountain

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