I am not surprised what finally happens to Jacinto. Andrés Caputo, the marquis’s servant, tries to find out if there is someone else who Jacinto might have told about the false paintings. Jacinto hangs out with Bernardo, the bell ringer, and a prostitute, so Andrés approaches them and manages to get the information he wanted. Neither of them knows about Jacinto’s secrets. Then the day before Ash Wednesday, Andrés Caputo sneaks into Jacinto’s house and kills not only Jacinto, but his wife and his eldest son, Jacintillo, who has some kind of mental disability. It is when Andrés is leaving that Jose, Jacinto’s other son, is coming and sees the man stealthily going up the street. José soon finds out what has happened, and he and his other siblings are inconsolable.
D Raimundo, the marquis of Gibalbín, is not happy when Andrés tells him what he has done. He is scared of being involved in this mess, especially when Andrés claims he has done what he ordered. Then Andres comes up with an idea to frame someone else for the crimes. So soon Diego González is arrested, and Bartolomé Gutiérrez, the tailor who is friends with Pedro, and the canon Francisco de Mesa ask the lawyer to defend Diego.
It is not going to be easy as there is so much against Diego. His room was searched, and the marshals and guards found a handkerchief with blood under the mattress and a bloody dagger in one of his drawers. Also, José and Bernardo have mentioned that Jacinto claimed that he and Diego had a row because he caught the younger man stealing in the cathedral, and as a result, they had a fistfight, which ended up with Jacinto having his nose injured.
Pedro starts his investigation, and when he visits Diego, the young man looks so astonished about what is happening to him that when he claims his innocence, Pedro believes him. Then the lawyer talks to Jose, the son, who is still in disbelief about the deaths, and he doesn’t believe that Diego could kill his parents and his brother. Jose also relates the story Jacinto had told him about Diego stealing and the subsequent fight, and Jose admits that he didn’t believe his father. He knew for sure that it was his father who stole the wine from the church and not Diego, who is a very honest person. Besides, Jose tells him about the man he saw the day of his parent’s deaths, and even though he can’t swear he is the killer, the odds are high, and he knows that the man is shorter than Diego and he was wearing a cloak and a broad-brimmed hat. Apart from that, José also mentions that sometimes his father sleep-talked, and he has heard him in one of these episodes say something about some paintings and gentlemen.
When Pedro talks to Bernardo, the bell ringer tells him a similar story. One thing that puzzles Pedro is the money found in Jacinto’s house. Bernardo tells him that Jacinto was spending more than usual, but he never told him where he got the money. And the interesting thing Bernardo shares with Pedro is that the day before Jacinto’s death, a man started talking to him, and for some reason they ended up chatting about Jacinto, and Bernardo admits he even told him about the disagreement between Jacinto and Diego. The strange thing is that the man wore a wide-brimmed hat. Then Pedro also talks to the prostitute that Jacinto usually visited, and she tells him about the man who talked to her about Jacinto, and that man was wearing a broad-brimmed hat. Here Pedro has a trail, but unfortunately, neither Bernardo nor the prostitute knew the stranger’s name.
Another client of his brings him information that incidentally leads him to something related to the death of Jacinto. The man who is a landlord explains that recently he let some rooms to a painter from Seville, and now the man has gone, leaving rubbish behind and the rooms are not just dirty but also damaged. The painter is Ignacio Alarcón, the painter who copied Zurbaran’s paintings to replace the originals. Something in what his client tells him makes Pedro curious. So he goes to the place, and the room is as the man described. There is tins of paint, turpentine, and some other things all over the floor. Then Pedro discovers some torn paper in which it is obvious the signature of Zurbarán was being copied.
After the visit Pedro is certain that there is a plot going on to replace Zurbaran’s original paintings for copies. His friend Bartolomé advises him to ask his relative Francisco Camacho, the sculptor, but when he does, he is told that D Francisco is away for the day but he will certainly receive him the next day. As Pedro knows that paintings by Zurbaran are in the Carthusian convent on the outskirts of the city, he rides to the place and after some discussion with the abbot, the man lets Pedro see the paintings. Yet, it is clear that the paintings are genuine as the dust gathered on the frames is testimony of their authenticity.
When Pedro visits D Francisco, his relative, the lawyer explains his suspicions and his misadventure in the Carthusian convent. Then D Francisco tells him that there are more Zurbaran’s paintings in Jerez, some in the Capuchin convent, some in St Miguel, and one in S Dionisio. So D Francisco and Pedro go to the Capuchin convent, and from the eight paintings by Zurbaran they find there, D Francisco can tell that four are fakes. When Pedro asks him why he can tell, D Francisco tells him to come closer, so Pedro can smell the turpentine that he can’t in the original paintings.
I think Pedro de Alemán is so clever and attentive to everything, so he is able to get the first step to uncover this plot and Jacinto’s death. I am also glad that he and Adela are courting, and I love the brief moments we see him and the girl together. Her parents, in particular her father, seems to have accepted him, especially as there has not been problems with the father of the man Adela was previously engaged to. They are still very formal to each other, and Pedro wants to show his respect above anything else. Yet, they have shared their first kiss when he escorts her home after they spend the evening seeing the processions in the Holy Week. I imagine that, if not in this book, in one of the other two Pedro and Adela will get married.