Book Review: A Thousand Cuts (A Spike Sanguinetti Mystery), by Thomas Mogford

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing

Publication date: 23rd February 2017 (UK)

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a-thousand-cuts-by-thomas-mogford-coverThe present day meets the dark and murky past as friends, politics and a cryptic mystery from World War II become finely tuned to the cry for justice. The title, A Thousand Cuts, is more profound than I first imagined with its meaning becoming significantly clearer as the novel moves forward.

The location itself is superb, such a change to the usual urban crime thrillers I tend to stick with for safeties sake. Gibraltar’s oppressive heat, its ancient facades, and the culture and relationships forged on the island all play a role in unravelling the history itself; it may be haven for most, but for others it’s a life sentence of memories they’d rather forget.

Being burdened by the need to do the right thing often presents a dilemma for Spike Sanguinetti at the cost of his own personal relationships. He’s a contradictory character with equally irritating and redeeming features. In the quest for the truth this lawyer often puts his client’s needs above the ones he cares about most. On one hand Spike is compelled to follow the story of a client, an unreliable alcoholic by the name of Christopher Massetti whose father was executed in the 1940’s for a crime Massetti believes he is innocent of. On the other hand his fiancée Jessica and his family are regularly treated to Spike’s impromptu absences, all for the cause he’s pursuing at the time.  I wanted to give him a good shake at times if only to remind him of what he has to lose.

Why has this case presented itself now and why do the facts matter to Spike so much? The further he travels into the past the road grows rockier and at times impassable. The whole sordid affair leads him to question the motives of the people that have affected the outcome of his life and how far he will he go to protect them. 

The book is separated into seven parts and its clipped chapters make the brooding intrigue incredibly easy to absorb. I was especially interested to read the aged evidence in the form of short transcripts of personal accounts from the 1940s. These were presented in the format they were recorded and made the historical facts appear all that more ‘real’ allowing the emotions, reasoning, and hints of personalities of those being quizzed to break through.

Events conspire throughout to both conceal and reveal the truth, and as a result the strong mystery element and imminent threat dodge and dive with stealthy skill. Very nicely done.

Confession time: when I picked up this book I had absolutely no idea it was part of a series (I know, I know. I will go straight back to my cave after writing this review). Well, it is. A series, that is. Yet it made absolutely no difference that I hadn’t read the previous ‘Spike Sanguinetti Mysteries’ as I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Thousand Cuts as a standalone.

Rating:  4/5

(My thanks to Bloomsbury for providing a surprise copy of this title for which I am delighted to offer an unbiased review.)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A thousand cuts … We may be few, but together we can change the world

When a routine court case takes a sinister turn, defence lawyer Spike Sanguinetti starts asking dangerous questions that nobody seems to want answered. Soon, it’s not just the truth that’s at stake: it is everything and everyone that Spike holds precious. As the Gibraltarian sun beats relentlessly down, crimes of the past and present collide, relationships are tested and long-buried secrets exposed. Who can Spike trust? And where do his own loyalties lie?

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(Courtesy of Publisher’s Website)

Thomas Mogford has worked as a journalist for Time Out and as a translator for the UEFA Champions League. His first novel in the Spike Sanguinetti series, Shadow of the Rock, was published by Bloomsbury in 2012. It received a starred review from Library Journal, which described it as a ‘breathtaking debut … Mogford’s exotic locales, gorgeous prose, and closing twist make this debut a showstopper’. Thomas Mogford is married and lives with his family in London.

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