Spike Sanguinetti’s name suggests a prickly optimist yet with the swagger of a handsome athlete his real character somehow transcends this superficial clash of appearance and personality.
This disconnect in personal characteristics complements the plot’s diverse settings in which the soporific idyll of Corfu, synonymous with the inoffensive olive, locks horns with the apparently lawless and awakening Albania whose more subversive staple of marijuana threatens to extend its addictive allure across the Straits of Corfu.
In the fourth instalment of the Gibraltarian lawyer’s continuing search for justice the author presents a conflicted lead character who is mentally challenged by the painful disintegration of his business yet emotionally he retains the strength of spirit to seek out the truth for a heartbroken mother whose son has become embroiled in a murder that threatens to rock the foundations of Corfu’s leading family.
The Hoffmans, lead by the patriarchal Sir Leo, appear more permanent than the archaeological remains they are striving to preserve but beneath the blue chip facade there are tensions that begin to surface as Sanguinetti begins to probe the strained relationships of the family members who have gathered for a party entitled “The Phaeacian Games”.
This nod to Homer gives the narrative a classical reference but this is a modern day plot which culminates in the “wild west” of Albania where blood vendettas are an everyday part of life in a post communist regime where law is enforced at the point of a Mafioso gun, while the police turn a blind eye.
Midsummer Murders by the Sea it is not but the author’s well observed narrative style reveals chinks of vulnerability in the emotionally taciturn lawyer as his slow burning relationship with Jessica reveals a man contemplating his best years slipping away yet in this forgiving and sensitive woman he may have found redemption and the opportunity to put the past behind him.
Oxford educated Tom Mogford has developed a character with longevity and although references to earlier stories may challenge the memories of the first time reader they give the narrative valuable context. Sanguinetti is certainly not one to let sleeping dogs lie and this bodes well for his expected return to Gibraltar.
Sleeping Dogs by Thomas Mogford (Publisher Bloomsbury. Price £7.99)
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