*** The Fencing Master by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Let’s get the not-so-appealing bits out first: The Fencing Master is full of fencing terms and descriptions of fencing practices (the title character is, after all, in the business of giving fencing lessons) and the story, set in 19th-century Spain in the midst of a revolution, seems to indicate that the reader should care about the political turmoil. But in fact you will do fine without reading the longish fencing bouts or the tedious political stories. Just concentrate on the story of Don Jaime who gets embroiled in a series of gruesome murders — and his old-style fencing and sense of honor will not always be to his advantage. The author manages to give us a good feel for the period while mixing modern themes that do not seem out of place. Well done.

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