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Sunday 29 November 2015

‘The Exile’ by Mark Oldfield

Published by Head of Zeus,
10 Septenmber 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-78185-151-7

In 1937, a Basque terrorist cell is captured by Franco’s men... in 1954, head of the secret police Guzman is on the trail of Basque leader El Lobo ... and in 2010, forensic scientist Galindez is still determined to hunt Guzman down.

This novel keeps you on your toes, guessing connections as you move from past to present. The two protagonists are very different. Commandant Guzman, in the 1954 narrative, is a survivor. He’s violent, quick-thinking, and ruthless, though his no-nonsense defiance of authority and his attraction to Magdalena and Nieves make him more likeable. All the same, he’s not a character you want to like, and the later softening revelations feel like the author’s letting him off the hook. Galindez is an enjoyable heroine, feisty and determined to see justice done, awkward around people, but willing to open up to those she trusts, like journalist and radio star Isabel Calderon. The action is non-stop, the body-count high and the excesses and corruption of the regime under Franco vividly described. There is sympathy with the Basque cause and the Spanish setting is vividly created, though I found the use of itallicised Spanish words overdone. 

Clever plotting, fast action and compelling characters in an unusual setting make this PP/thriller very readable ... except that, although there’s no hint of this on the jacket, blurb or title page, it’s actually the second book of a trilogy, billed on Amazon as Vengeance of Memory 2, and it ends on a seriously annoying cliff-hanger. It is very good, so if it sounds your kind of book, I’d recommend waiting till all three are out, then starting with The Sentinel.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor
Mark Oldfield has worked in criminological research for over 20 years. He has a PhD in Criminology from the University of Kent and has carried out research in the areas of risk assessment and prediction and as well as evaluative research on policing, prisons and probation. He has also taught in various Universities on research, crime and criminal justice. The Sentinel combines his professional knowledge with his long-time love affair with Spain which began in 1976 when he first went to the Spain for the Fiesta of San Fermin in Pamplona.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

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