A Thousand Cuts by Thomas Mogford

A deadly explosion in Gibraltar’s dry dockyard was never going to divert attention from the Battle of Britain and the few defending the many in their balletic aerial battles witnessed by a never say die generation. But this seemingly innocuous blip on the second world war radar comes back to haunt the dying embers of this generation on the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula.

Having had his sojourn to Corfu ruined by marijuana dealing Mafioso Spike returns, in the fifth instalment of the Sanguinetti mysteries, with thoughts of belated domesticity but the maverick lawyer is soon embroiled in a series of unexplained murders whose victims have links back to the socio-political melting pot of cross border collaboration between fascists sympathizers and misguided locals. Recently released MI5 papers give the plot added legitimacy and cast a spotlight on the seemingly dispensable status of the inhabitants of this former Moorish outpost to the overall war effort.

Oxford educated Tom Mogford continues to develop Sanguinetti as an emotionally flawed personality whose black and white approach in his professional life does not always translate into emotional characteristics best suited to the longevity of his personal relationships. Jessica is his long suffering partner whose feminine touch brings out a more sensitive Spike but as the body count increases and the prime suspect tests deep-seated family loyalties his professional and personal lives inevitably becomes compromised

The pace and syntax of the plot leaves you piecing together the clues in a virtual jigsaw that moves you from the dark days of the monochrome 1940’s to the gaming inspired technology of the 21st century but it’s the common thread of death and injustice that truly adds the heart stopping colour to Sanguinetti’s investigation.

The final act is more Shakespearean tragedy than contemporary climax but this juxtaposition of the old and new is a tv adaptation waiting to happen.

A Thousand Cuts by Thomas Mogford (Published by Bloomsbury, Price £14.99). Buy A Thousand Cuts at Amazon.

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