Newcastle attorney Eric Ward was a policeman until his career was cut short by glaucoma. He studied law, and eventually became a barrister. And surgery seems to have considerably helped his eyesight. He’s married to the former Ann Morcomb, a wealthy younger woman who runs an estate and a considerable number of investments, and she has yet to understand why Eric won’t throw over his law practice and be her full-time attorney.
Eric likes his independence, and he likes knowing that he doesn’t depend upon a wealthy wife, even if it would be easier. He does represent her on the board of a financial firm in London, one that’s filled with sharks itching to see the end of him. Eric asks too many questions – the wrong kind of questions. But’s he made a name for himself in Yorkshire and London for his expertise in maritime law and for ferreting out information that has saved clients (and his wife) a lot of money.
He’s approached by Simon Chan, head of a shopping and banking company in Singapore, to find a former company officer who’s now missing. It seems this officer negotiated deals he shouldn’t have, and it isn’t just Chan who wants to find him. The man also disappeared with the wife of a former business partner. But nothing in this world of shipping, strange contracts, high finance, hostile takeovers, and arbitrage is ever what it seems. And the body count is growing.
First published in 1991 as A Kind of Transaction, The Spanish Villa Murder by Roy Lewis is the ninth mystery in the Eric Ward series, and it shares the consistently high quality of story of its predecessors. The story displays a quiet (sometimes not-so-quiet) tension between Ward and his wife that connects to the main plot line and a deep knowledge of maritime law and how courts operate.
Lewis is the author of some 60 other mysteries, novels, and short story collections. His Inspector Crow series includes A Lover Too Many, Murder in the Mine, The Woods Murder, Error of Judgment, and Murder for Money, among others. The Eric Ward series, of which The Sedleigh Hall Murder is the first (and originally published as A Certain Blindness in 1981), includes 17 novels. The Arnold Landon series is comprised of 22 novels. Lewis lives in northern England.
Ward’s understanding of human nature, and his ability to know when a client is lying (which is often), underscore the story in The Spanish Villa Murder. The series is being revised and reissued by Joffe Books, and it’s an excellent mystery and legal thriller.