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Tango in Madeira: A Dance of Life, Love and…
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Tango in Madeira: A Dance of Life, Love and Death

by Jim Williams

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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I could not really decide whether I liked this book or not. The descriptions of the island were good and atmospheric, as was the period setting in the 1920s. But somehow the story and the characters did not really grab me and it was a bit of a struggle to finish it. As some other reviewers have said it is difficult to put a finger on why it does not really work as well as it might. ( )
  fancett | Nov 2, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Like watching a beautiful piece of clockwork through a glass case. You can appreciate the elegance and intricacy of what it's doing, but with little understanding of what the piece is or for what purpose it does all this. The author's own afterword suggests he has as little idea as the rest of us – the refreshing honesty of which certainly made me feel less of a thickie. ( )
  m_k_m | Sep 23, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I liked the settings and the characters, but somehow I didn't end up liking the novel in itself very much. It is a kind of mystery-novel, but without the darkness and suspense that I had hoped for. However, it was a light and easy read, and in the end, somewhat entertaining. And I liked the many literary references. ( )
  Rosa_Saks | Jul 11, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this novel, which I'd received as part of the Early Reviewers program. It's ostensibly a mystery but it's mostly an exploration of a character in a particular period of time. In this case, the setting is post-WWI Madeira which the author describes wonderfully. The protagonist is a likable fellow despite his many faults. He comes across as a scoundrel, not above lying to and cheating his friends, but he is also humble and cares for those close to him, in his way. Fictionalized versions of well-known personalities, such as George Bernard Shaw and Agatha Christie, play significant roles in the story. ( )
  mathgirl40 | Jul 7, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An enjoyable piece of mystery writing that reads more like historical fiction than traditional suspense. I suspect that this book would not appeal as much to genre fans. It starts out much more of a character study of the various types of people who drifted about post WWI in the dying British Empire. The characters are interesting and complex; the language written to suit them and their time. Different historical figures pop up in the book: George Bernard Shaw, Agatha Christie, the deposed Austro-Hungarian Emperor Karl. But they are more a distraction, a conceit, or a bit of color, although some of Shaw's letters, and a three scene play are peppered throughout. The interest lies more in the damaged souls that arrive in Madeira on the 'The Kildonian Castle' and the locals and natives whose lives intersect theirs.

Pinfold is our narrator, and a decent, if complicated ex-soldier. I was never quite sure what to make of his main companions, Pennyweight and Fairbrother until the end. Sometimes they seemed fools, but I got the impression there was always more to them than that. Pinfold's sometimes friends and companions on Madeira are equally complex. I enjoyed that no character was strictly a villain or a good-guy. There-in lied the suspense, I suppose. Yes, there is a murder mystery, but at times, that seemed entirely beside the point. Which is why I think mystery lovers might not find it to their liking.

I feel like billing it as such does it a disservice. The metaphor of the tango is less apt than of the crumbling villa that the narrator calls home. Gilded by the glory of generations past, climbing vines and fragrant flowers left to grow wild mask the crumbling foundation, disrepair and smell of death in what is left of the Pinfold estates. This is what he inherited, and is much more the crux of the novel than the mystery of one more soldier's death. ( )
  skyekat | Jun 23, 2013 |
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Epigraph
People who like quotations love meaningless generalizations.
Graham Greene
Travels With My Aunt
Dedication
To the management and staff of Reid's Palace Hotel,
who continue to welcome strangers with kindness, courtesy and professionalism.
First words
'The Emperor Karl is a descendant of Jesus Christ,' said Pennyweight with the confidence of the amiably mad.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A disillusioned soldier looks for love. An exiled Emperor fears assassination. Agatha Christie takes a holiday. And George Bernard Shaw learns to tango.

In the aftermath of World War I, Michael Pinfold a disillusioned ex-soldier tries to rescue his failing family wine business on the island of Madeira. In a villa in the hills the exiled Austrian Emperor lives in fear of assassination by Hungarian killers, while in Reid's Hotel, a well-known lady crime novelist is stranded on her way to South Africa and George Bernard Shaw whiles away his days corresponding with his friends, writing a one act play and learning to tango with the hotel manager's spouse.

A stranger, Robinson, is found murdered and Michael finds himself manipulated into investigating the crime by his sinister best friend, Johnny Cardozo, the local police chief, with whose wife he is pursuing an arid love affair; manipulated, too, by Father Flaherty, a priest with dubious political interests, and by his own eccentric parent, who claims to have been part of a comedy duo that once entertained the Kaiser with Jewish jokes. Will Michael find love? Will the Emperor escape his would-be killers? Will any of the characters learn the true meaning of the tango?
A disillusioned soldier looks for love. An exiled Emperor fears assassination. Agatha Christie takes a holiday. And George Bernard Shaw learns to tango.

In the aftermath of World War I, Michael Pinfold a disillusioned ex-soldier tries to rescue his failing family wine business on the island of Madeira. In a villa in the hills the exiled Austrian Emperor lives in fear of assassination by Hungarian killers, while in Reid's Hotel, a well-known lady crime novelist is stranded on her way to South Africa and George Bernard Shaw whiles away his days corresponding with his friends, writing a one act play and learning to tango with the hotel manager's spouse.

A stranger, Robinson, is found murdered and Michael finds himself manipulated into investigating the crime by his sinister best friend, Johnny Cardozo, the local police chief, with whose wife he is pursuing an arid love affair; manipulated, too, by Father Flaherty, a priest with dubious political interests, and by his own eccentric parent, who claims to have been part of a comedy duo that once entertained the Kaiser with Jewish jokes. Will Michael find love? Will the Emperor escape his would-be killers? Will any of the characters learn the true meaning of the tango?
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