Shadow of the Rock Synopsis
A humid summer night in Gibraltar. Lawyer Spike Sanguinetti arrives home to find an old friend, Solomon Hassan, waiting on his doorstep. Solomon is on the run. A Spanish girl has been found with her throat cut on a beach in Tangiers and he is accused of her murder. He has managed to skip across the Straits but the Moroccan authorities want him back. Spike travels to Tangiers to try to delay Solomon’s extradition, and there meets a beautiful Bedouin girl. Zahra is investigating the disappearance of her father, a trail which leads mysteriously back to Solomon. Questioning how well he really knows his friend, Spike finds himself drawn into a dangerous game of secrets, corruption and murderous lies. (TheNile – Aus)
I love how reading fiction often allows us to travel (at least in our minds) to anywhere in the world without all the expense, time and physical exertion required of ‘real’ travel. In setting his debut thriller Shadow of the Rock in Gibraltar and Tangiers, Thomas Mogford has created a point of difference from the bulk of thrillers already on the market. His descriptions of Gibraltar oozed mystery and dark secrets.
Tank Ramp, Bedlam Court, Devil’s Tower Road: Gibraltar street names were the hallmarks of its bloodstained past. After crossing a narrow passageway, Spike ran up a high-walled set of steps. A fig tree had seeded itself in the ruins of an old victualling yard; he caught a hint of mustiness in the scented leaves and raised a hand to the branches, sending a large grey ape bounding away into the darkness.
Tongues of fog licked at Spike’s face as he burst onto Castle Road, the last demarcation before the Rock become too sheer to colonise.
In addition to the exotic and atmospheric settings of Gibraltar and Tangiers, what struck me was the fast pacing Mogford achieved through the use of unusually short chapters. This writing style provided excitement and intrigue but at times the change in scenes was so quick that I found myself slightly lost. The use of multiple(?) languages other than English in the dialogue between characters interrupted my reading flow on a couple of occasions also.
Despite the ‘hard to put down’ hot and steamy romance and dangerous situations in which unlikely hero Spike Sanguinetti finds himself in Shadow of the Rock, it is the quieter interactions with his ageing father that I appreciated the most.
The character web is complex and interesting but the element of chance or coincidence is relied upon just a little too often to progress Spike in his quest to unravel the mystery. This story is one I can imagine working well on a big screen with its exotic vistas and fast paced action sequences.
Viewed in the category of escapist adventure thriller Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford is an entertaining addition to the genre. The second book in this Spike Sanguinetto mystery series is titled Sign of the Cross and will be released in 2013.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 3 / 5
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Author Information: Thomas Mogford has worked as a journalist for Time Out and as a translator for the UEFA Champions League. Thomas Mogford is married and lives with his family in London.
- Check out Thomas Mogford’s official website
* My receiving this title free from Bloomsbury ANZ did not impact my expression of my honest opinions in this book review.