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Shadow of the Rock by Thomas Mogford
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Shadow of the Rock

by Thomas Mogford

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Spike Sanguinetti arrives home to Gibraltar only to find Solomon Hassan waiting from him. Solomon is on the run, a Spanish girl was found with her throat cut on the beach in Tangiers and he is being accused of the murder. Spike travels to Morocco to try and delay the extradition, where he meets a woman investigating the disappearance of her father, which is also is leading back to Solomon being involved.

Shadow of the Rock seems to be book one of a newly planned series by Thomas Mogfold. Not only is there a real sense of mystery, but also the protagonist finds himself questioning just how much he knows his friend. Two different situations has put Solomon in a world of suspicion. Spike Sanguinetti is a tax lawyer, a job that for me seem very boring, and now he is thrown into this huge adventure, really putting him out of his comfort zone. With all the excitement, I did feel like the book lacked any real character development; sure I learned about the protagonist and support cast, but it felt like very broad strokes of development. This might be the plan, as a series the writer needs to save some development for the other books. But for me the character development was underdone and too sloppy.

For me the highlight of this book was Gibraltar and Morocco as the backdrops for the danger Spike surely finds himself in. I’ve not been to either places but I have very fond memories of Spain and imagine the atmosphere and the culture would be similar. It was so great to read a book set in an unusual location. As far as the mystery of this book, it was very generic; it ticks all the right boxes for a formulaic best seller thriller series and I truly hope Thomas Mogfold has a huge success with Spike Sanguinetti.

I just feel this series has a lot of great potential and I’m curious to see if book two turns out to be something more developed. I can see myself either loving this series or really hating it depending on which path the author takes; the formulaic thriller route in the hope to become a best selling crime writer or the well-developed character route. I will be checking out book two but if it fails to show any improvement I plan to abandon this series. Spike has so much to offer so we will wait to see what happens next.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2012/12/14/book-review-shadow-of-the-rock/ ( )
  knowledge_lost | Apr 28, 2015 |
Well, what a disappointment "Shadow of the Rock" (SOTR) was. Seemed like a winner. A lawyer based in Gibraltar agrees to help a friend accused of murder in Morocco; and the next book takes place in Malta. After seeing Bogart in "Casablanca" years ago, I'm a sucker for anything with a Moroccan tag, be it a book, restaurant, movie, so I was predisposed to writing a good review for this, but no way. While reading SOTR I often felt like I was watching a foreign language film with no subtitles. I got a sense of what was going on based on the action, but the dialogue was often unclear, and the descriptions of place were lacking. While that was the major problem for me, there were others. The plot was confusing, and I'm not sure what the miracle technology is all about that is so central to events in the book. Also, the hero lawyer (a tax lawyer!) had no problem gaining access whenever to the key executive of a company which has billion euro potential - uhhh, not likely. Ditto for a sex scene and a torture scene. I believe the second book in this series got better reviews than SOTR, but no thanks - I'm done. ( )
  maneekuhi | Jul 27, 2013 |
This is a gritty story played out on unfamiliar territory for most of us - Gibraltar and Tangiers. It promises to be the beginning of a series, with the second, SIGN OF THE CROSS, already published. Spike Sanguinetti, lawyer specializing in taxation, is an interesting character but I am not sure whether I really like him.

What I did like about SHADOW OF THE ROCK were the evocative descriptions, and the sense of the meeting of cultures on both sides of the Straits of Gibraltar.

It's a plot that would only work for these modern times, with a focus on a renewable energy company building a solar powered site in the Sahara.

It is also a plot with some lovely twists. While it is a murder mystery - who really killed the girl whom Solomon Hassan is accused of murdering? - it is essentially a thriller. ( )
  smik | Feb 24, 2013 |
Before you place Shadow of the Rock firmly under the thriller category, think again. This is not James Bond style action, not Jason Bourne hand to hand combat (although it does contain a little of both). This is more the ‘ordinary man turned investigator on an adventure’ category (if there is such a thing). And that’s primarily the reason why I enjoyed this novel, because it shows an everyday guy getting out of his depth.

Spike Sanguinetti is a lawyer in Gibraltar, famous for its rock and tax benefits. That’s what Spike does day in, day out – he’s not a criminal lawyer, but a tax one. When a friend calls him after he’s been falsely accused of murder in Tangiers, Spike reluctantly offers his help. Once in Tangiers, he’s faced with another world of murder, solar panels and secrets. His attempt to help his friend Solomon has got him into trouble and his growing friendship with Zahra (who suspects her father was murdered in the name of ‘progress’) isn’t helping.

I enjoyed this book for many reasons, but the first one is because of its setting. You don’t see Tangiers or Gibraltar as a location for many novels and most of my knowledge of this area comes from various travel programs. It was insightful to get an idea of Gibraltar not just as a place to see a big rock and get some duty free. Tangiers, well…I’m not sure if I’d want to travel there just at the moment given that Mogford paints it as a somewhat crooked place. In Shadow of the Rock, Tangiers is presented as a city where all sorts of corruption are taking place in the background. However, the description of the souks and buildings has got me more interested in Morocco.

Shadow of the Rock is also exceptionally action packed for a book lacking the stereotypical action man main character. The pages literally turn themselves, as Spike runs into more and more problems and as more people start to target him. There are a lot of chapters in this book (some less than a page) and it did get a little annoying, because they were used as to stop the action or to jump forward in time. However, that’s a minor thing to complain about!

I admire Mogford for using a different style of hero for his main character. Spike doesn’t get in a lot of fisticuffs or death defying situations, but uses his brain to turn situations to his advantage. It reminds me a little of Stella Rimington’s Liz Carlyle (who does have the benefit of being a British secret agent). There’s also light relief with the secretary character at Spike’s hotel in Tangiers, who speaks only in mysterious sayings.

The ending was somewhat open, which was a refreshing change from some books that tie up everything neatly. There’s also mention of what could become the next book in the series, which I’ll be looking forward to. Spike can now add to his credentials crime solver.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Nov 25, 2012 |
If you're going to be a business lawyer dragged into criminal matters by an old school friend who gets himself into a heap of trouble, then the mean streets you walk somehow seem considerably more exotic when they are the laneways, byways and desert tracks of Gibraltar and Tangiers.

SHADOW OF THE ROCK is the first Spike Sanguinetti novel from UK author Thomas Mogford. An old-fashioned hard-boiled style thriller, this book is not short of a lot of running around, some lurking, a lot of our hero lost in a strange new world, a love interest, some unexpected threats, a big business styled conspiracy, and a very big allocation of action.

Fortunately, unlike in a lot of these big, bold thriller style books, there are some very engaging characters who behave in a surprisingly real way. Sanguinetti in particular is brave when pushed, daft when required and a son, a lawyer and a friend way before he's any sort of an action hero.

The sense of place delivers strongly as well, although most of the action does take place in Tangiers and surrounds. Obviously this provides a lot of the tension and difficulties for Sanguinetti to resolve as he's very out of his depth, in places and a culture that is outside his own experience. There are some early scenes in Gibraltar however, but not a lot actually happens in the Shadow of the Rock. Which if you want to think about it this way, could be a good thing. Now there's hope that the next book in the series looks locally at Gibraltar providing the same view of a place, and a culture, which is very different from the mean streets of ... say Melbourne, Glasgow, or New York.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/shadow-rock-thomas-mogford ( )
  austcrimefiction | Oct 2, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802779999, Hardcover)

On a humid summer night in Gibraltar, lawyer Spike Sanguinetti finds Solomon Hassan, an old school friend, waiting on his doorstep. Accused of murdering a Spanish girl in Tangiers, Solomon swears his innocence. He has managed to skip across the Straits, but the Moroccan authorities demand his return. Spike travels to Tangiers in the hope of delaying the extradition.

Solomon's boss, Nadeer-the founder of a renewable-energy company called Dunetech that is on the verge of financing an enormous solar-powered site in the Sahara-suggests that if Spike can delay Solomon's trial until after the deal is signed, he will persuade the governor of Tangiers to bury the extradition demand. Complicating this offer, Spike encounters a Bedouin girl who insists that Dunetech is engaged in a nefarious scheme linked to the disappearance of her father. As Spike uncovers the truth, he finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a world of secrets, corruption, and murderous lies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:53 -0400)

"A humid summer night in Gibraltar. Lawyer Spike Sanguinetti arrives home to find an old friend, Solomon Hassan, waiting on his doorstep. Solomon is on the run. A Spanish girl has been found with her throat cut on a beach in Tangiers and he is accused of her murder. He has managed to skip across the Straits but the Moroccan authorities want him back. Spike travels to Tangiers to try to delay Solomon's extradition, and there meets a beautiful Bedouin girl. Zahra is investigating the disappearance of her father, a trail which leads mysteriously back to Solomon. Questioning how well he really knows his friend, Spike finds himself drawn into a dangerous game of secrets, corruption and murderous lies" -- from publisher's web site.… (more)

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