In the second novel of his series (Shadow of the Rock, 2012), Mogford sets up his unconventional hero for a third volume in the violent world of Gibraltar-based attorney Spike Sanguinetti.
Spike, whose family originally hails from Malta, returns there with his aging father, Rufus, when his father’s brother, David, and his beloved wife, Teresa, are found dead, victims of what police say is a murder-suicide. But Spike and his dad know that something is wrong. David loved his kind, beautiful wife, and their late-in-life marriage had been a source of great joy to both of them. Police believe David, an art expert, cut Teresa’s throat after discovering she had a lover. But those who knew Teresa, a generous woman who worked for a nonprofit refugee relief agency, say that the only love outside of David that Teresa possessed was her dedication to the agency’s clients. Slowly, Spike begins to realize that David and Teresa fell victim to something much more sinister than a love triangle. And when young women, including one from Teresa’s camp and another from Spike’s past, also disappear, Spike joins forces with family friends who are also quasi-celebrities on Malta and starts questioning the investigation. Soon, he is thrust into a dangerous cat-and-mouse game that he neither prepared for nor understands. Mogford opens with a graphic homicide, and while his writing is atmospheric and evocative of the exotic locales his characters occupy, his prose tends to come off as dark and brutal. Romantic souls who want to escape for a few hours to Malta, or in a lesser capacity, Gibraltar, will learn plenty about their histories and customs, but there’s nothing pretty about either the settings or the characters they’ll meet along the way.
The author overuses changes in tense as a literary device, throwing in the requisite ho-hum evil conspiracy or two, but the cons don’t outweigh the pros in this hard-hitting, no-holds-barred novel that will leave readers panting for the next installment.