Law of Return

Law of Return

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by Rebecca Pawel

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“Strongly atmospheric . . . Fans of Spanish Mystery master Arturo Perez-Revate will enjoy this volume.” —Baltimore Sun

“There’s plenty to admire in this mystery. . . . Satisfying.”—Washington Post Book World

“Impressive levels of storytelling and fairness. . . . Wonderful. . . . Pawel resists easy

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“Strongly atmospheric . . . Fans of Spanish Mystery master Arturo Perez-Revate will enjoy this volume.” —Baltimore Sun

“There’s plenty to admire in this mystery. . . . Satisfying.”—Washington Post Book World

“Impressive levels of storytelling and fairness. . . . Wonderful. . . . Pawel resists easy solutions to historically difficult problems.”—Chicago Tribune

“A colorful, thrilling story about loyalty and love . . . Pawel weaves together her characters’ fate with a deft and cunning hand.”—Detroit Free Press

“[Pawel] frames the difficult and moral questions of the era in the lives of her fascinating characters, bringing history alive.”—Rocky Mountain News

Lieutenant Carlos Tejada has been transferred to Salamanca, the city where he studied law before the Civil War. His new police duties include monitoring parolees—former professors who were fired for protesting a Franco decree. Elena Fernandez, having lost her job because of her political sympathies, has returned home to Salamanca from Madrid where she and Tejada had first been romantically involved. Her father, one of the parolees, was a distinguished professor of Classics. He has just received a letter from a Jewish friend, Professor Joseph Meyer, begging for help to cross into Spain from France before he is forcibly repatriated to Germany.

Professor Fernandez cannot violate his parole by traveling to the border town of San Sebastian so Elena goes in his stead. Tejada, tracing a missing parolee, finds himself in San Sebastian, too. There Elena and Tejada’s paths fatefully cross again.

Rebecca Pawel is 26 years old, lives in New York City and teaches at a Brooklyn high school. Her widely-praised first novel, Death of a Nationalist, won the 2004 Edgar® Award for Best First Novel and was an LA Times Book Prize finalist. Death of a Nationalist appeared on several 2003 top ten mystery lists, including Chicago Tribune, Publishers Weekly and Detroit Free Press.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Like 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 Reviews
A 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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Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Carlos Tejada Alonso y Leon Series, #2
Product dimensions:
5.22(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)

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Law of Return 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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In 1940, Carlos Tejada looks forward to his promotion to lieutenant in the Guardia Civil and his assignment to the university town of Salamanca as he studied there before the Civil War exploded. He does not expect his job to tax his brain as he has to keep track of parolees consisting of former professors who became classified as convicts for defying a Franco decree. Also returning to the city is Carlos¿ college lover Elena Fernandez, who lost her job because she was politically incorrect. Carlos must report on her father as one of his parolees to his superiors. When a paroleegoes missing, Carlos investigates. He follows Elena to the border where she claims she meets her father to take him home. Actually, Elena is helping a family friend, German Jewish Professor Joseph Meyer, flee France before the French return him to Germany for ethnic cleansing. Will Carlos do his duty to Spain and turn in a woman he still desires and might be a killer or will he help sneak the twosome into Salamanca while also trying to solve the murder of his missing parolee?

Though Carlos is part of the law and involved in a murder mystery, LAW OF RETURN is more an entertaining historical thriller that spotlights the beginning of Franco¿s long rule in Spain. Of interest is that though Spain is Fascist like Germany and Italy, the Jewish Meyers feels that this is a safer spot for him than Vichy France and obviously Germany. Readers who take pleasure in a deep historical tale will find Rebecca Pawel¿s story providing plenty of pleasure.

Harriet Klausner