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Mogford, Thomas - 'Hollow Mountain'
Trade Paperback: 240 pages (Apr. 2014) Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing ISBN: 1408846586

HOLLOW MOUNTAIN is the third in Thomas Mogford's series about lawyer Spike Sanguinetti, and follows directly on from SIGN OF THE CROSS.

The story opens in Spike's native Gibraltar with a group of tourists stumbling across a grim find. One of the famous Barbary Apes has discovered a human arm on the rocks.

Meanwhile, Spike is a few hundred miles away in Italy, pursuing some unfinished business in Genoa and Portofino. However, he has to return home in a hurry to pick up the reins of his legal practice after his business partner Peter is injured in a car accident. One of their outstanding cases concerns salvage rights over a shipwreck lying just off the Gibraltarian coast. A company called Neptune Marine is fighting through the courts for the right to reclaim its load of lead (apparently shipwrecked lead is useful for making mobile phones). Spike promises to finish the job, but finds it has wider ramifications as he has to negotiate between the Spanish government and the British military.

Spike also offers to help Amy, the beautiful young widow of the man whose arm we met in the opening scenes. She feels his death has been inadequately investigated by the military police.

Meanwhile, an aristocratic Spanish assassin is on Spike's trail - but why?

Thomas Mogford knows how to deliver a sense of place. Gibraltar sounds an interesting (if unappealing) place, a mix of expensive but empty luxury housing for the mega-rich and ugly apartments for the poor. British sovereignty is maintained in the face of Spanish hostility. Some local flavour is added by a smattering of the yanito dialect used by the locals: charavasca, indamai, harampai, cagana. There doesn't seem to be a dictionary online but some of these are rude, I think. The names have an interest of their own - English first name, Mediterranean surname: Rufus Sanguinetti, Amy Divinagracia, Peter Galliano, Jessica Navarro.

Spike is a realistic thriller hero, trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstances and hampered by having to deal with the emotional repercussions of his adventures. As the plot thickens, he finds his personal and professional lives merging as he uncovers a hidden story of corruption. The novel ends with a thrillerish climax: a frantic chase through the maze-like tunnels of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Mogford's plotting is effective, his characters are realistic, and I enjoy these trips to the seamier side of the Med - I'm looking forward to more.

Rich Westwood, England
June 2014

Rich blogs at Past Offences.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 28/06/2014 13:38