Hollow Mountain – Thomas Mogford

This book was sent to me in exchange of an honest review by Bloomsbury India

Continuing in the bid of travelling around the globe, through books, this time we meet Spike Sanguinetti a lawyer practicing in the Gibraltar. As a kid I remember references to the Rock of Gibraltar in history  books but haven’t really come across it as an adult either in movies or shows or books. Thomas Mogford has decided to change that. Gibraltar is an overseas British territory bordering Spain. They had captured it in 1704, after which almost the entire Spanish population of the region moved out, and rule it to this day. No wonder it is a bone of contention between the British, seen as usurpers even after 300 years, and the Spaniards who consider it their territory.

The author had captured the attitudes of both the Spanish and Gibratar residents throughout the book. Knowing how strongly people feel about mere states being broken up into two, it is perfectly understandable that the people of the region have strong views about the situation in Gibraltar.

When we meet Spike he is tracking his disappeared/kidnapped ex-girlfriend in Genoa. Just when he seems to have traced a clue to her, he receives news of the tragic accident of his business partner and dear friend Peter Galliano. When he arrives in Gibraltar, he finds his friend in a coma and the work at his office piling up. A suspicion begins to creep into his head that Peter may have been the target of the same individual who has his girlfriend. He begins to sort through the cases that Peter was working on and comes across an interesting case of a salvage company working in the straits. That things are not as they seem is revealed as things progress.

Spike lives with his aging father and that shows his sweet, sentimental nature. He has a childhood friend, Jessica, who is now a cop and wants nothing more except to become something special in his life, only he doesn’t seem to realise it. His forays into detective work also bring out the very evident amateur nature of his inquiries. It seems that he just keeps blundering into situations without ever worrying about the consequences to those who are unwittingly helping him along. It happens more than once and he is completely unprepared every single time. I wished again and again that he would research more and prepare better. He does learn his lesson about halfway through the book and becomes more meticulous and careful in his plans. Even so, chance plays a major role in his coming out on top.

The story, the location and the writing are all extremely precise and competently etched out. It was a fun read and lived up to its claim of being a thriller. The author’s description of Gibraltar, the rock, the tunnels, the apes (which aren’t really apes) and the life of the locals there was extremely insightful. It is as much a travelogue as a crime fiction book and is fun on both accounts.


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