A cop’s transfer to a new posting in Franco’s Spain comes with a full slate of new problems.
Pleased to leave his position in Salamanca for a promotion to his own command in the Cantabrian village of Potes, Lt. Carlos Tejada anticipates less strife with his fellow officers and a warmer reception for his pregnant wife Elena, usually shunned as too much of a leftist (Law of Return, 2003, etc.). When they arrive at the snow-encrusted outpost, however, no one is there to meet them, and when the farmer they get to give them a lift drops them at the nearest lodging in the dead of night, the innkeeper Anselmo is mysteriously absent and his wife extremely agitated at their appearance. The next morning, when Tejada slogs his way to the station, he is informed that his predecessor, Lt. Calero, had been murdered by Red guerrillas. Determined to whip his lackluster cadre of five officers into shape and settle Elena into more amenable accommodations, Tejada is stymied by the insubordination of Sgt. Marquez, bedeviled by Maquis guerrillas out to avenge the results of 1939, and faced with innkeeper Anselmo’s murder, mountain bandits and a missing cache of dynamite, and Elena’s premature labor. The resolution leaves Tejada—sated by political disagreements with nationalists, loyalists, guerrillas, communists, and his wife—yearning for a discharge from the Guardia.
Equal parts history lesson and crime novel, displaying both offhand cruelty and welcome depth.