I’ve just begin to read this year, as a personal challenge, the complete Carvalho series by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán in order of publication. I did read most of these books when they were first published. In my opinion they provide an excellent account of the social and political changes that took place in Spain from 1974 until his death in 2003.
I started last January with his first detective novel Tattoo (Tatuaje, 1974). Although Pepe Carvalho made his first public appearance in Yo maté a Kennedy (1972), this book does not belong to the genre. What Montalban did was to borrow his character because it just suit him well when he bet he was able to write in a fortnight a detective novel (Tattoo).
Asesinato en el Comité Central was published by Planeta in 1981. It was written between April 1979 and January 1981. In English it was first published by Pluto Press, London in 1984 as Murder in the Central Committee. In my personal count this is Carvalho series # 4.
In this case Pepe Carvalho leaves his hometown Barcelona and heads to Madrid. This will give him the opportunity to submit Madrid to a close scrutiny. Carvalho has been hired by the Spanish Communist Party to investigate the murder of their Secretary General Fernando Garrido. He must join forces with the official investigation, lead by the anti-communist Fonseca, with whom Carvalho (a former communist and former CIA agent) has an unsettled past.
The facts are that the lights went off during a meeting of the Central Committee. Everybody suspects it’s just a power failure, but when the lights returned after a short period of time, Fernando Garrido was slumped over the table. Somebody had stabbed him to death.
As a political thriller it was great fun back in 1981 to identify who, in real life, was behind each character. However I’m very much afraid that this book doesn’t pass well the test of time. Although it is wonderfully written, we are left with an unfinished plot in which too many questions remain unanswered and unless you are very much interested in Spanish history or in the history of the Spanish Communist Party, it might be difficult for you to find it very attractive.
Manuel Vázquez Montalbán in Wikipedia