A Thousand Cuts
A Spike Sanguinetti Novel #5
Bloomsbury Books, July 2017
Thomas Mogford has written a stunning, wrenching thriller. It is true that the passage of time can heal many wounds, but not all. Here is an emotionally fraught tale stretching from the turgid dark time of international intrigue and sabotage during World War II to the modern century of courts, lawyers, social interactions in a stratified and somewhat isolated society. The setting of the story, the rocky peninsula limited by the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, called Gibraltar, is an unusual and interesting place.
The protagonist is lawyer Spike Sanguinetti, dealing on the home front with an aging unsettled father, an adoptive son and a pregnant fiancée, Jessica, who is a member of the Gibraltar constabulary. The cast of characters is long and varied and the story actually begins in the dockyard of the Royal Navy, during the early years of World War II. An explosion kills two Navy ship workers and severely injures a third man, Esteban Reyes. Reyes is arrested as a saboteur and eventually executed.
Time passes, and the modern story develops when Spike is called on to defend a violent man, known throughout the small Gibraltar community for attacking the dying husband of a prominent doctor. Why does this happen? What is the connection between these three individuals? That mystery, that puzzle is the heart of this moving tale. As more and more is revealed, obscure and unknown connections are bared to the cold light of day. Moral issues of war and law are raised and bent in many directions.
Questions of motive, love and professional development are raised and twisted about with the relationships of the characters. The novel is packed with emotion and second-guessing and issues and Spike Sanguinetti is confronted with several decisions that affect his personal as well as his professional life.
It is a lot to deal with and the author is careful to construct a structure that retains necessary logic and fully explains itself to the reader, yet leaves one with personal questions. Highly recommended.