Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jason Webster

Jason Webster was born near San Francisco in 1970 and educated in England, Germany, Italy and Egypt. After graduating from Oxford University in Arabic and Islamic History, he moved to Spain, where he has spent most of his adult life.

His crime fiction series set in the Spanish city of Valencia - his adopted home - features Chief Inspector Max Cámara of the Spanish National Police. The first novel in the series, Or the Bull Kills You, involves a murder in the complex and tightly-knit bullfighting community. The second novel in the series is A Death in Valencia.

Last month I asked Webster what he was reading.  His reply:
I’ve recently finished The Twelve [US title: The Ghosts of Belfast] by Stuart Neville, which is something of a classic. I met Stuart over the summer at the Harrogate Crime Festival, and it was great to then go away and read his book with the author’s voice and intonations still in my mind. An Ulster accent is very distinctive, and goes very well with the subject matter. Now that ‘the troubles’ are officially over, it’s harder to get a sense of what life is really like there these days: ‘rumbling tensions’ don’t make for very good headlines. So I learned a huge amount about what Northern Ireland looks like from the inside. It’s not pretty, the wounds still run deep. And Stuart Neville is just the right person to lead us into the labyrinth: The Twelve is informative, thrilling, complex and simply a great read.

I’m writing a book about WWII at the moment, so the vast majority of my reading is focussed on various aspects of the conflict. Perhaps the most powerful account of what it was like to be there at the time is found in Panzer Commander by Hans von Luck. An associate of Rommel, Von Luck fought in almost all the theaters of the war, including North Africa, Normandy and the Eastern Front. He was captured by the Soviets in 1945 and was repatriated to Germany in the 1950s. Unlike many soldiers’ accounts, the pace never drops, the prose is clear and precise, and the thrill and horror of being in battle are wonderfully expressed. Anyone who wants to get inside the world of a soldier should read this book.

Finally, I’m reading a brilliant book called Timbuctoo by Tahir Shah. It tells the true story of Robert Adams, an American who became the first Westerner to travel to the legendary Saharan city - and live to tell the tale. It’s a great romp of a read, with a wealth of detail about the period - the early 19th century - with beautiful pen-portraits of some of the great characters of the age, including the Prince Regent and Sir Joseph Banks. There is also something of a moral in the tale as well, about a society gone mad with greed. The echoes with our current situation are all too evident. As with all Tahir Shah books, it’s a page-turner, and it’s hard to put down. Even now I’m itching to stop talking about it and get back to reading it…
Visit Jason Webster's website and blog.

My Book, The Movie: Or the Bull Kills You.

The Page 69 Test: Or the Bull Kills You.

Writers Read: Jason Webster (September 2011).

The Page 69 Test: A Death in Valencia.

--Marshal Zeringue