Translated by Nick Caistor

Part of Melville International Crime

In a Spain still stifled under the rule of Franco, former CIA operative — and former Communist — Pepe Carvalho has become so cynical he seems to care about nothing except food and sex. He’s even taken to burning the occasional book in his Barcelona apartment, just so he can have a fire going in the fireplace when he eats some bacalhao.

But when he sees the cops bungling a case he’s hired to investigate — that of a body pulled out of the sea — he’s roused by a sense of injustice. The cops think the murder was connected to local drug dealers and brothels, and they begin raiding bars and harassing Barcelona’s women of the night. But Carvalho’s gut tells him something else is going on, and the cops are wrong once again.

But as the cops stir up more and more trouble, and Carvalho gets more and more entwined, he’s only got one clue: a tattoo on the dead man’s body: “Born to Raise Hell in Hell.”

Born in Barcelona in 1939, poet, playwright, essayist, and novelist MANUEL VÁZQUEZ MONTALBÁN was one of Spain’s greatest writers. A well-known gourmand, he also wrote often about food. He is best known for his crime series featuring Pepe Carvalho, which won him international acclaim and numerous awards, including the Planeta Prize and the International Grand Prix de Littérature Policière. He died in 2003 in Hong Kong, on his way home from a book tour for what would be his last Pepe Carvalho mystery.

NICK CAISTOR’s translations from the Spanish and the Portuguese include works by José Saramago and Paulo Coelho, and he is the author of Che Guevara: A Life.

Praise for Manuel Vázquez Montalbán and the Pepe Carvalho series:

“Montalbán writes with authority and compassion and a le Carré-like sorrow.” —Publishers Weekly

“Montalbán is a writer who is caustic about the powerful and tender towards the oppressed.” – Times Literary Supplement

“A sharp observer of the high and the low …” —Detectives Beyond Borders

“If Graham Green, P.G. Wodehouse, Raymond Chandler, and Anthony Bourdain all sat together in front of a typewriter, the result would be Pepe Carvalho.” —Crimespree