THE WATCHER IN THE PINE

Rebecca Pawel, Author
Rebecca Pawel, Author . Soho $24 (288p) ISBN 978-1-56947-379-5
Reviewed on: 11/29/2004
Release date: 02/01/2005
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-57827-2
Paperback - 308 pages - 978-1-56947-409-9
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Both time and place—1940, just after the Spanish Civil War, in a remote village in the mountains of northern Spain—are impeccably rendered in Edgar-winner Pawel's well-researched if austere novel, her third (after 2004's Law of Return ) to feature Carlos Tejada, a lieutenant in the Guardia, the police force of Fascist Spain. Tejada has left his previous post in Salamanca to take command of the Guardia in the town of Potes, whose small size belies its troubles. Guerrillas killed his predecessor, and the area has been designated a "Devastated Region" in the war's aftermath. Tejada and his young wife, Elena, who's carrying their first child, are both greeted with wary suspicion, despite Elena's Republican sympathies. The Civil War may be over, but the conflict lives on, embodied by the relationship between Tejada and Elena and their relationships with the residents of Potes. The crime that propels the mystery, which is a long time in coming, involves the theft of two crates of dynamite, a local rebel's death and a ruthless and enterprising guerrilla. But for all the book's richness of detail, the lack of narrative drive and flatness of tone may disappoint fans of more conventional mystery fare. (Feb. 1)

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