Shadow of the Rock (A Spike Sanguinetti Mystery) Paperback – 11 Apr 2013
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Very original ... and brilliantly rendered ... a rare and enviable talent (William Boyd)
Makes ideal, if rather disturbing, reading if you're holidaying in Morocco ... Evocative, engrossing and entertaining (The Times)
This couldn't have been any better ... an engrossing tale that captures the reader's heart. I look forward to the new adventures of Mr. Spike Sanguinetti (CriminalElement.com)
If you want a terrific first thriller to enjoy, try Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford - it's ace - an original, pacy, great writing debut (Susan Hill on Twitter)
Don't miss ... A good start to a promised series featuring Spike Sanguinetti, a Gibraltan lawyer (Literary Review)
A top rate thriller (Simon Lelic)
Terrific. What Aurelio Zen was to Italy, Spike Sanguinetti could turn out to be for Gibraltar (Charles Cumming)
I loved Shadow of the Rock. Mogford's sharp prose drew me in from the first page and his intriguingly flawed hero Spike stands out in the memory (Sadie Jones)
The first in an exciting new crime series set in Gibraltar and Morocco, featuring lawyer Spike SanguinettiSee all Product description
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Opening with tax lawyer Spike Sanguinetti making his way along the cobblestone streets of the Old Town to the home that he shares with his father, an unexpected visitor awaits him and not a hugely welcome one at that. Old school friend, Solomon Hassan, now resident in Tangiers, looking less than pristine and clearly shaken has sought out Spike after finding himself with a spot of "trouble" on his hands, specifically, the murder of his boss's Spanish step-daughter, Esperanza, all just a "misunderstanding" according to Solomon. Given that Solomon is a Sephardic Jew and that Jews aren't flavour of the month in Morocco he has illegally crossed the water, knowing that he risks life and limb with imprisonment in Tangiers.. As a tax specialist who has not taken a criminal case in over four-years Spike offers to find him a criminal barrister, but Solomon wants Spike who has no intention of getting involved, especially given his lack of the specifics surrounding extradition law and his nagging doubt that Solomon isn't giving him the full story. As Spike crosses to Tangiers in a bid to delay Solomon's extradition and ensure that any future trial is held in Gibraltar, he senses that something much deeper and darker lies at the root on Solomon's situation and perhaps inadvisably, he can't resist taking a closer look..
By day Spike meets Solomon's employer, an ethical corporation named Dunetech with a focus on harnessing renewable solar power to alleviate the "scourge of poverty" that blights Morocco who are on the brink of signing a deal that is seen as critical for improving the wealth of the nation. (Why? Because the government heavily subsidises energy and hence a switch to renewable power will free up government funds for other usage.) Yet Spike starts to believe that Dunetech are not as altruistic as they appear and when he meets a beautiful Bedouin girl, Zahra, last seen arguing with Esperanza his problems get a whole lot more complicated. For Zahra claims she confronted Esperanza about the disappearance of her father, a desert elder who refused to sell his essential slice of land to the might of Dunetech and she holds Esperanza's step-father responsible. As Spike hooks up with the enigmatic Zahra to probe both cases in a frankly murky manner, he finds himself with making some very nasty enemies in Tangiers, begging the question of just what his safe passage home will cost.
Don't be fooled by the idea that life with a tax lawyer in the backwater of Gibraltar is a pedestrian affair by any means. Spike Sanguinetti is no corporate slave; he is quick-witted and nobody's fool, playing hard ball with all the classic traits of a tenacious noir protagonist, a cynical take on life and a wandering eye for the ladies.. Crucially, Spike knows how things operate in both regions and that the greasing of palms loosens tongues... A refreshingly intelligent thriller that rattles on but does require readers to stay on top of the unfolding drama. Admittedly Spike's character is not fully fleshed out but he clearly has plenty of potential and I look forward to learning more about both him and his exploits, particularly the future of any potential relationship with volatile Bedouin, Zahra, who on the surface seems the polar opposite of London educated "Gibbo" Spike.
Shadow of the Rock comes highly recommended and Thomas Mogford's incisive and perfectly crisp narrative complements clued-up Spike. Mogford writes astonishingly well, never wasting a word in this fast-paced thriller. Hugely compelling, I urge any readers with a similar lack of awareness about life on the Rock not to hesitate as Mogford does a magnificent job of showcasing the exotic location and also making child's play of a plot which at first glance appears potentially complicated. Rich in cultural detail, Shadow of the Rock is a whirlwind tour of Gibraltar and Morocco and exudes the spice of life on both sides of the Gut (the Straits).
Note that Shadow of the Rock is a novel which requires investment by the reader and a willingness to often read between the lines and make your own inferences, hence this isn't a read to switch off through. Certain instances would have benefitted from further clarification, especially given the vast differences to life in Britain. Also there is a fairly extensive use of foreign language words and expressions and likewise for those appearing in yanito (the patois of Spanish, Genoese, English and Hebrews used by native Gibraltarians), and whilst the gist is largely easy to pick up that is by no means always the case. I would have appreciated a major reduction as although it adds to the vibe it did become increasingly frustrating. Some readers may find Shadow of the Rock a little top-heavy on both the historical and geographical information, however I found it stimulating to be educated in this digestible manner and now I am intending to make up for lost time and read the next two Spike Sanguinetti outings that I already have on my colossal TBR pile. A series with huge potential.
Review written by Rachel Hall (@hallrachel)