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Sunday, 6 January 2013
‘The Sentinel‘ by Mark Oldfield
The story covers three periods, the Spanish Civil war in 1936, Madrid in 1953 and 2009.
Dr Ana Maria Galindez is a forensic scientist, not long out of university eager to start her career in the guardia civil, she is becoming increasingly frustrated after all her training to be the one sent to investigate the remains of people killed in a war seventy five years ago. Sent to investigate a mass grave from the Franco era, Galindez becomes fascinated by a diary recording the details, arrests and executions under the control and orders of Comandante Guzman of the Brigada. She meets up with Profesora Luisa Ordonex, who is conducting an investigation into secret policeman Leopoldo Guzman who disappeared without trace in 1953.
The events of 1953 are narrated in the third person by Guzman. He is greatly feared. Reporting direct to Franco, he is there to remove anyone who opposes, or is even a possible threat to Franco. His approach to human life is cold and brutal. His methods of execution, inhuman. But Guzman has enemies who are keen to bring about his downfall.
The events of 1953 run con-currant with Ana Maria Galindez’s investigation into Guzman, but there are people who would prefer that Guzman’s secret ledgers remain hidden. Are the shadows of the past still haunting the present. Obsessed with her search, Ana Maria puts her life on the line in pursuit of her quest.
Not a comfortable book, portraying a vivid picture of a country torn by war and conflict, fear and poverty, but a powerful story meshing together the past and present, with a stunning climax.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes