Thomas Mogford is an author that I’ve been meaning to try for a while but other priorities have got in the way. However, carrying out my resolve to move my reading to other parts of Europe, I picked up Hollow Mountain as I was attracted to its Gibraltar location. I’m glad I did because Mogford is a seriously good writer. He manages to combine tense plotting with excellent prose and has produced a book a cut above the ordinary crime thriller. I wish I’d tried his books earlier.
Lawyer Spike Sanguinetti is in Genoa looking for his missing ex-girlfriend who telephones him to say she doesn’t want to be found and that the lives of his family are at risk. Spike is called back to Gibraltar when his partner becomes the victim of a hit and run accident which may have been a result of him being deliberately targeted. Spike picks up his partner’s outstanding cases which include a missing husband and a salvage company looking for silver bullion in a wreck in the Straits. Both cases lead him into violent confrontation with those looking to protect their financial interests.
Gibraltar is a place that I know little about so it was fascinating to read the descriptions of the baking hot landscape with its lacklustre buildings and slightly bored tourists. The perennial conflict with the Spanish border is constantly referred to and adds to both the tension in the book and the sense of a place brought to life. The landscape plays an important role in the narrative and we get glimpses not only of the tourist Gibraltar populated with its Barbary apes but also of the local community struggling to make a decent life in sub-standard housing.
Hollow Mountain is fairly shocking in terms of its depictions of violence but the author has done well to strike a balance between making the brutality graphic without seeming gratuitous. Although I’ve started reading the series with book three, I’ll definitely look out for the earlier novels, given the quality of the prose. Mogford really is an excellent writer and reminds me a little of another talented author, Adrian McKinty.
Thanks to Bloomsbury for my review copy.