Dominic Martell, Author
Dominic Martell, Author . Carroll & Graf $24 (275p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0955-7
Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 01/01/2002

Las Ramblas, Barcelona's famous promenade, is a swirling cesspool of international terrorism in this novel of spies and betrayal. Haunted by his violent past as a courier for a radical network, Pascual Rose has a university degree but no job; he prefers to drift among the junkies, smugglers and refugees of the city's Gothic Quarter. Martell (The Republic of Night) makes a vague reference to his protagonist's involvement with the Basque ETA and (by extension) several other terrorist outfits. Pascual is protected by a CIA-tailored cover, which he earned by ratting out all but one of his former comrades-in-arms, his old flame Katixa. But when an ETA commando is gunned down in the Spanish countryside, Katixa materializes with a suitcase full of money and a desperate need to find Pascual and get out of the country fast. The ETA hit men hot on his trail are anything but nice; graphic descriptions of brutal intimidation and torture pepper the narrative. Readers quickly learn that the Spanish police haven't changed much since Franco: "Pity the old days are gone. I'd love to take a sock full of ball bearings to that pretty face of yours. The things we've had to give up, just so they'll let us into Europe." So Pascual makes a dangerous decision and calls in his old Yankee marker, which lands him in a lethal crossfire between the Spanish CESID, the Mossad and the CIA. Despite a lifetime in the business, Pascual has no idea who's running whom. Gung-ho readers may enjoy the author's take on transnational terrorism but, then again, they may find that real life has satisfied their interest in violent annihilation. (Feb.)

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