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4.2 out of 5 stars
Hollow Mountain: A Spike Sanguinetti Mystery (Spike Sanguinetti 3)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 May 2014
Having read and reviewed the two previous books, Shadow of the Rock and Sign of the Cross featuring charismatic and slick lawyer Spike Sanguinetti, I could not wait for the third instalment to appear. So here it is, Hollow Mountain, and I think I can confidently say that it does not disappoint…

The novel opens in Gibraltar with a great scene- you can’t beat an ape appearing with a dismembered human arm and frightening a small child- quickly followed by the introduction of Spike Sanguinetti in Genoa on the trail of his errant former lover, the enigmatic and mysterious Zahra. Theirs has been a tricky relationship played out over the course of the three books, and this wily female continues to elude and frustrate the lovelorn Spike. Throw into the mix an almost fatal accident involving Sanguinetti’s partner in his law firm, and an intriguing tale involving the territorial rights of salvaging sunken ships highlighting also the push-me, pull-you battle over the sovereignty of Gibraltar- the hollow mountain of the title- and what transpires is a multi-faceted tale all played out with Mogford’s superb narrative control. Certainly for me, this tightness of plotting meant that no single strand of the story was more overplayed than the others, which is some feat in a relatively short crime novel.

Added to the assured control of plot, Mogford once again presents a cast of contrasting and full characters imbued with wit, charm, nastiness or greed in equal measure. Spike Sanguinetti is a charmer, with his air of calm control and suaveness, undone sporadically by not only the pursuit of Zahra, the heartwarming but fraught relationship with his father, but also by his uncanny knack to find himself in the thick of trouble and murder. Mogford’s characters generally have a nifty line in humour in the face of adversity, and there are some lovely laugh out loud moments. I am particularly fond of Spike’s curmudgeonly father Rufus, and the interaction between them, and despite Spike’s protests to the contrary, there are more alike than either would concede. Likewise, Spike’s police associate Jessica Navarro is growing in stature as the series progresses, and will be interested to see how her character is developed further.

In Mogford’s usual style, the book weaves in little snippets of pertinent information as regards location and socio-political mores as the action pivots between various locations, with Gibraltar itself standing front and centre, bathed in mystery and rich in history. In a nod to psycho-geography, Gibraltar is imbued with almost human characteristics in Mogford’s depiction, and his gradual unfurling of the colourful history of this contentious piece of land over the course of the three books has been fascinating.

So another thumbs-up from me, and delighted to discover recently that Mogford is on his research travels once again in Italy and Albania for the next book. What on earth will Spike be up to next? Rest assured I look forward to finding out. A great read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 October 2014
This is the third of Mogford's Spike Sanguinetti thrillers and it is possibly the best - which is saying something, because the first 2 (Shadow of the Rock and Sign of the Cross) were superb.
There are two main strands to this novel: the one arises from Spike's search for the beautiful Bedouin girl whom he loves, Zahra, and who appears to have been kidnapped by an extremely dangerous criminal; the other from an apparent hit-and-run, which has left Spike's partner in his law firm, Peter Galliano, in a coma: as the plot unfolds, we learn that there is more to this apparent accident that meets the eye, and it has certain connections to a haul of silver which has been discovered at the bottom of the sea in the Straits of Gibraltar. Both those strands come together in a perfect denouement, which is outdone only by the shocking and explosive ending.
Spike's character is fascinatingly explored. Ever enigmatic, he is darker than ever before in this novel, as the ghosts of his past are explored in an intriguing way. Also, the narrative cleverly weaves in - through the eyes of a hitman observing Spike secretly - a view of him through the eyes of another which contains some interesting insights into Spike's magnetism.
Another treat from this gifted crime thriller writer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book is the first for me out of the three published so far. I enjoy a different take on crime detection and how people react in the various countries.

This book provides a great deal of background, albeit in small doses, on the Gibraltarians and especially the way the Spanish see and treat them.

Spike Sanguinetti is not a detective though he has some help fron a female police force member. I suppose the two earlier books would have had further detail of this relationship but, at least, she's on the right side as far as Spike is concerned.

The story is interesting in that it involves the underwater reclamation of a load of 19th century lead but the subterfuge pops up when a much earlier cargo of silver is located nearby.

Spike's investigation takes place because he is the lawyer representing the reclaimers who need all the relevant paperwork endorsed for them to continue.

Running alongside is Spike's misguided love for a girl who suddenly ups and leaves him, bringing Spike into a rather nasty drug & people trafficker.

Once you get into the way of things with the characters, the story is pretty good, though it's a shame the senior policeman is an idiot - as they usually seem to be in books these days. It was always going to be a book that ends in tears for the most part but, as ever, there's always a piece of the silver lining showing through.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2014
Having read the first two novels in the series, I pre-ordered 'Hollow Mountain' several months ago and was excited to see it pitch up in the post for Easter...

Whilst there is no need to have read the other two novels to enjoy this one, I do think the background and character-building from the previous works helps. 'Hollow Mountain' for me certainly had a more threatening air about it with Spike Sanguinetti's family, friends and colleagues being put at significant risk by his amateur sleuthing.

The novel is essentially several stories in parallel culminating in an unpredictable denouement with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Aside from the intriguing plot, a barrage of local colour, the suggestion of sexual frisson and the reader's draw to the protagonist kept me glued to the novel.

Hoping for - and looking forward to - the next in the series!
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on 24 May 2015
I think I felt disadvantaged not having read the two previous novels and didn't understand the roles and relationships in ways I perhaps should have to get the best out of this book.

There is a bit of a treasure-find story here, as well as a separate lost-love story (a legacy thread). But there is nothing really deep here as a crime mystery. I guess I expected more courtroom time, or sleuthing, because Spike, our protagonist, is a lawyer, and his friend, Jessica, is a policewoman. I didn't fully warm to him either because of a couple of strange things he did.

I found the Gibraltar angles to be both fascinating and instructive and these certainly gave the book a unique dimension.

In short, though, while the setting was interesting, I found it hard to catch up and wasn't blown away by the mystery elements. 7/10
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on 10 June 2014
This is number three in the Spike Sanguinetti series. The weight of the world heavy upon his shoulders, the Gibraltarian lawyer is just as engaging as he was in the earlier volumes. Thomas Mogford has a superb sense of pace and keeps our interest totally bound up in the development of his story by a succession of short chapters that entice you on. The novel is an excellent example of its genre, crime fiction that approaches closely police procedural; it is both exciting and absorbing which encourages you to read the book quickly to its end at the expense of everything else you ought to be doing. May we see more of Mr Sanguinetti.
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on 16 August 2015
What I like about Mogford's writing is that for me he truly brings alive the places and the characters in his books. Typically I can take or leave the plot side of crime/thriller novels (and television programs for that matter), it's the human side of the story that I'm always seeking. He's not afraid to dive down deep into the psyche of his characters and goes to some very dark places -- bringing the reader along whether they like it or not! It's for this brilliant writing technique that I plan to return to the series and buy book number 4 now...
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on 5 January 2015
The third instalment of lawyer Sanguinetti's quest for his girl Zahra interrupted by a rather pedestrian story about marine salvage and multiple murders all a bit Midsummer Murders transferred to Gibraltar. Our hero may or may not be suffering from Marfan's Syndrome like his father but until diagnosis he is quite the superhero, smoking, drinking, doing no physical exercise but still capable of outrunning a van and manhandling a man over a cliff. A good enough read but not a good enough book and he does not get the girl.
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on 16 December 2014
Another fast moving, well written and exciting offering from Mogford. I repeatedly find myself jumping ahead a paragraph or two so desperate am I to find out how the latest dramatic moment turns out only to go back and enjoy it unfolding once I know. Mogford's filmic style sets a terrific pace that does not stop until it is, as usual, brought beautifully together. I can't wait for Spike's next adventure
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on 21 August 2015
Interesting local colour - I've learnt a bit about Gibraltar - but cardboard characters and a cliche-ridden plot. I finished it, only because I had to know if it ended as I expected (it did), but I'll not be picking up any more of these.
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