The Ignorance of Blood is the last book in the Javier Falcón Quartet set in Seville in which all outstanding questions are finally answered.
Javier Falcón has made a promise to the people of Seville that he would find the real perpetrators of the bombing that brought down an apartment building and destroyed part of a pre-school killing many, including children. However his vast investigation is stalled until a spectacular car crash involving a Russian mafia gangster throws up a small clue. When put together with another seemingly disconnected piece of information it gives Falcón both a breakthrough and a colossal problem. He’s just stepped into a turf war between two Russian mafia groups.
Added to that, Falcón’s best friend, the Moroccan Yacoub Diori, who is spying for the Spanish Intelligence agency, is now being blackmailed by the terrorist group, which he has managed to infiltrate.
Behind the Narrative
The initial inspiration for The Ignorance of Blood came from the other side of Europe, on a trip to Prague in 2002. We left our hotel in Wenceslas Square to wander the heart of this beautiful, old city and saw that every other shop front was a casino. As we walked locals came over to tell us to be very careful of money changers: it was all a scam. In a bar we watched, stunned, as two toughs came in, rapped on the counter and were given a wad of banknotes from the till. That night the city thronged with hundreds of prostitutes. In the morning at our hotel big, heavy guys with gold watches and chains accompanied by pneumatic, young blondes in spray-on mini dresses sat down to breakfast. It was clear that the whole of the centre of Prague was in the hands of the mafia.
There are some similarities between Prague and Seville in that they are both big tourist destinations with vibrant centres. Both cities have become favourites with young Brits for stag nights and hen parties. What’s more, Seville, with its high-speed train link to Madrid, is very popular with Madrileños for long weekends and they are great consumers of prostitutes and drugs. Seville also has a huge number of construction projects underway, ideal for laundering money. Given that the Russian mafia were already on the Costa del Sol, in my imagination Seville seemed ripe for criminal development.
The motive for writing the book though, wasn’t just that the Russian mafia has become a powerful criminal force on the Iberian peninsula, nor that Islamic terrorism is still a potent threat to the Western world, but also because I was fascinated by their victims. How do ordinary people respond to the sudden intrusion of this dark world?
There are two types of victim: the one who allows himself to be corrupted by accepting money, drugs and/or sex and thereby becomes the creature of his corruptors and the other whose vulnerability is discovered and exploited. This latter type of victim is the more interesting. They are the ones who are forced to behave, not by direct threats, but by the consequences for those closest to them.
It was interesting for me to observe how my characters performed under duress. Those who had been corrupted had lost something of themselves in the process: they found the core of their being, built up through years of family relationships and education, was flawed and disintegrated. In taking the bribe they’d given up any hope of self-determination. They were, under threat of exposure, permanently in the hands of others with no possibility of redemption.
On the other hand, the apparently less powerful victims, seemed able to hold on to what they considered to be truly valuable. They might start to come apart at the seams but, because they stuck to what they believed in and cherished the lives of those close to them more than their own, they maintained their dignity even in their direst moments.
Although it might appear that we only have our moral centre to resist the horror, I was determined to show that love and trust can be impressively powerful weapons against total ruthlessness.
The Ignorance of Blood by Robert Wilson is published by HarperCollins