SHADOW OF THE ROCK, Thomas Mogford
If you're going to be a business lawyer dragged into criminal matters by an old school friend who gets himself into a heap of trouble, then the mean streets you walk somehow seem considerably more exotic when they are the laneways, byways and desert tracks of Gibraltar and Tangiers.
SHADOW OF THE ROCK is the first Spike Sanguinetti novel from UK author Thomas Mogford. An old-fashioned hard-boiled style thriller, this book is not short of a lot of running around, some lurking, a lot of our hero lost in a strange new world, a love interest, some unexpected threats, a big business styled conspiracy, and a very big allocation of action.
Fortunately, unlike in a lot of these big, bold thriller style books, there are some very engaging characters who behave in a surprisingly real way. Sanguinetti in particular is brave when pushed, daft when required and a son, a lawyer and a friend way before he's any sort of an action hero.
The sense of place delivers strongly as well, although most of the action does take place in Tangiers and surrounds. Obviously this provides a lot of the tension and difficulties for Sanguinetti to resolve as he's very out of his depth, in places and a culture that is outside his own experience. There are some early scenes in Gibraltar however, but not a lot actually happens in the Shadow of the Rock. Which if you want to think about it this way, could be a good thing. Now there's hope that the next book in the series looks locally at Gibraltar providing the same view of a place, and a culture, which is very different from the mean streets of ... say Melbourne, Glasgow, or New York.
On a humid summer night in Gibraltar, lawyer Spike Sanguinetti finds Solomon Hassan, an old school friend, waiting on his doorstep.
Accused of murdering a Spanish girl in Tangiers, Solomon swears his innocence. He has managed to skip across the Straits, but the Moroccan authorities demand his return.
Spike travels to Tangiers in the hope of delaying the extradition. Solomon's boss, Nadeer - the founder of a renewable-energy company called Dunetech that is on the verge of financing an enormous solar-powered site in the Sahara-suggests that if Spike can delay Solomon's trial until after the deal is signed, he will persuade the governor of Tangiers to bury the extradition demand. Complicating this offer, Spike encounters a Bedouin girl who insists that Dunetech is engaged in a nefarious scheme linked to the disappearance of her father. As Spike uncovers the truth, he finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a world of secrets, corruption, and murderous lies.