Written by Thomas Mogford — Gibraltan lawyer Spike Sanguinetti is back for a fourth book in this series by Thomas Mogford. Following the violent events of the previous book, Hollow Mountain, Spike is in Corfu to meet up with his legal partner Peter Galliano. He’s taken his curmudgeonly father Rufus and his sometimes girlfriend detective Jessica Navarro with him.
The serenity they’re enjoying at a beautiful location on the north-east coast of the island is soon disrupted by a murder on the adjacent estate of millionaire Sir Leo Hoffman. With a local man falsely accused of the crime, Spike unwittingly becomes involved in a case hinging on the testimony of an elusive Albanian girl who is in fear for her life. As the action pivots between Corfu and Albania, Spike and Jessica race against time to catch a killer.
Although Spike himself is dealing with his own feelings of loss and insecurity after the death of his lover in a previous story, his strong moral core means he’s unable to turn his back on the fate of an innocent man or his friend Peter, who is emotionally invested in the case.
A stand out feature of Mogford’s writing is the wry and easy humour of his characters. The book is peppered with amusing asides, and Mogford cannot resist a few cutting sideswipes at the idle rich, who are personified by Leo Hoffman, and his children, as he plays lord of the manor in foreign climes. The dialogue feels natural and reflective, and there is an assured balance between the lighter and darker aspects of Spike’s psychological make-up. He has proven to be an incredibly empathetic character throughout the series to date.
Previous books have taken us from Gibraltar to Italy and Malta, and Mogford appears to have researched his locations very well. He comfortably paints a picture for us of the tranquility of the Greek coast then immerses us in the moral deprivation of popular holiday resort Kavos. Sleeping Dogs weaves in little snippets of pertinent information about local customs and socio-political mores, and this is especially vital to the plot when the action moves to Albania. Spike and Jessica find themselves at the whim of local superstitions and practices, which seem strange to them. This adds to the interest without over complicating the storyline and what unfolds is precisely written and engaging.
The tight plotting means that no single strand of the story is overplayed, though this is a relatively short crime novel. The investigation takes several twists and turns along the way, which keeps a heightened sense of engagement and, more importantly, keeps us rooting for Spike to clear the accused man’s name and catch the real culprit. An excellent read.
CFL Rating: 5 Stars