The Angst-Ridden Executive (A Pepe Carvalho Investigation) by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán:
An affectionate letter which reflected the older generation’s fetish for formalities. The letter took on new meaning when Señora Alemany, twenty years younger than her octogenarian husband, spoke in a subdued voice to inform him that Alemany was ill, very ill. Alemany was all skin and bone, with a pale complexion and grey hair that was neatly combed. Breathing through his mouth and peering at Carvalho with eagle eyes, Alemany told the detective to come and sit by his bed. He gave his wife just one look and she hurried from the room. Then the old man looked at Carvalho and asked him to be brief. The detective explained the reason for his visit. Had Jauma been to see him recently about anything to do with Petnay? If so, what? Was it something important? The old man said nothing. Carvalho explained that he was there on behalf of Jauma’s widow, and the eagle eyes becamse more gentle. He shut his eyes as if to make them gentler still, swallowed his saliva by a motion of his Adam’s apple that was almost audible, and a slight trembling movement indicated that he was gearing himself up to speak, in the way that Spanish toilet cisterns give a slight quiver just before the water begins its descent down the pipe.