A beautiful and defeated rebel and a refugee from Nazi prosecution pose a profound moral choice for Lt. Tejada.
Publishers WeeklyLike Pawel's impressive debut, Death of a Nationalist (2003), this sequel makes fine use of local color and scenic detail to evoke its unusual setting, post-Civil War Spain ("The fields were the color of cornhusk dolls, not a healthy golden yellow, but a pale, anemic reminder of green"). Alas, the plot doesn't carry the same punch as its predecessor. Series hero Lt. Carlos Tejada Alonso y Leon, a member of the feared and detested Guardia Civil in Madrid, has been transferred to Salamanca to monitor parolees. When one of his charges, Manuel Arroyo Diaz, disappears, Tejada follows the missing man's trail to Biarritz and is reunited with his former lover, Elena Fernandez. Elena is now involved in a political matter concerning her classics professor father and his Jewish friend, Professor Meyer, who's in danger of being forced to return to Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, Diaz turns up dead with his head bashed in, his body identified from the cards in his wallet. Tejada investigates, but soon realizes more is at stake than mere murder. The author captures the anomie of postwar Spain while eschewing excess bloodshed, but the deliberate pace and relative inaction will frustrate readers expecting a more conventional crime novel. One can only hope Lt. Tejada's next assignment will prove more absorbing. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsA little more intrigue and a little less mystery in 1940 Spain. Carlos Tejada (Death of a Nationalist, Feb. 2003) has been promoted to lieutenant in the Guardia Civil and sent to Salamanca, where his superior officer assigns him to overseeing the weekly report-in of parolees. When one of these disappears after no one, including his wife, brother-in-law, and job supervisor, has seen him for the past week, Tejada begins investigating and learns that the former professor, who with four others lost their academic posts when they protested the treatment of university rector Miguel de Unamuno, has been murdered. In doping out whodunit and why, Tejada collides with another mystery. Elena Fernandez, a schoolteacher to whom he was drawn in Madrid, is now visiting her family in Salamanca but illegally crossing borders to appear in Biarritz with an elderly German she tries to pass off as her father. Are the murder and the deception related? Tejada must put his safety on the line to get the trio back to Salamanca and untangle the grueling ordeal of a nationless German Jew and the vile manipulation of a patriot's Swiss bank account. Politics and wartime inquisitions notwithstanding, romance rules the day.
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