This is the second full length story in this series. There is also a novella, Echo Rock due to be released shortly. The Poisoned Rock was published in 2016 so it’s been a long wait for the next installment, which I’m happy to say is due next month.
The second instalment of the The Rock Murder Mysteries finds Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan and Chief Inspector Gus Broderick involved in a tangled investigation when a film crew arrive on Gibraltar. Queen of Diamonds is a movie being filmed in Gibraltar Town based on the exploits of an alleged female spy operating in Gibraltar during World War II.
Josh Cornwallis, the screenwriter, had originally been developing a story about a particular female spy who worked for British intelligence officers, until he received an anonymous letter pertaining to another female agent. As more information, and a chance meeting, came Josh’s way he felt he had enough material and backing to write a screen play based on the new data. Top secret files smuggled out of the UK and a strange meeting in Gibraltar with Don Martinez during filming prove to be Josh’s undoing.
But by far the most interesting revelations, as far as Maugham was concerned, were those detailing the more unsavoury aspects of British intelligence initiatives. War and peace-time skulduggery laid bare. Bribery, betrayals and double-crosses. State-ordered assassinations, both planned and realised, were now out in the open for all to see. A Pandora’s box had been opened, its fascinating and damning contents given full transparency. Of the files still considered ‘too toxic for release’, there were surprisingly few. In fact, Maugham had kept back only one file from his area of interest, a slim volume found at the bottom of a drab grey filing cabinet. It contained information about intelligence and espionage operations carried out during World War II in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar.
The story begins in the Gibraltar of 1942 with a young woman, moonlighting as a prostitute, who is found murdered. With the items she has in her possession, the then Inspector of the Gibraltar police force finds he has enough information to make tracing the unfortunate victim easier than he had supposed.
Back in the present day, Tamara and Gus find themselves involved in the long reaching consequences of that murder and the associated declassified file secreted by Graeme Maugham and brought to Gibraltar. As members of the cast and crew are targeted, the information contained in the file and the resulting dark mystery plunges Tamara and Gus into the murky world of espionage and covert operations.
Great writing along with a fast moving, skilful plot line, clearly defined, engaging characters and realistic dialogue combine to deliver an excellent read. As in the first book, the setting is fabulous and shows the author’s love and knowledge of the area. The continued working and friendly relationship building between Tamara and Gus adds to the realism, as does Gus’ bond with his family.
The diverse cast of characters made trying to guess the outcome incredibly difficult, even with the rising body count, and the reveal was something I hadn’t even considered. Robert Daws has hit his stride with this book. I loved it. Looking forward to more of the same.
About the Book
With only five weeks to go before the end of her secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, D.S. Tamara Sullivan is enjoying life on the Rock. With one murder investigation successfully under their belts, Sullivan and her commanding officer, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, settle down to regular police work under the sunny Mediterranean skies.
In London, the British Government has declassified a large number of top secret files regarding British Military Intelligence operations during World War Two. One file, concerning espionage operations on Gibraltar, has been smuggled out of the U.K. to Spain. It contains information that will draw Sullivan and Broderick into the dark and treacherous world of wartime Gibraltar. A place where saboteurs and espionage plots abounded. Where double and triple agents from Britain, Germany and Spain were at war in a treacherous and deadly game of undercover operations.
As the summer heat reaches its zenith in Gibraltar Town, a film crew has arrived on the Rock to shoot a movie about one of the most enigmatic and legendary spies of the war years – ‘The Queen of Diamonds’. Starring Hollywood A-lister Julia Novacs and produced by local born film maker, Gabriel Isolde, it is the talk of the Rock.
It is only a matter of time before past and present collide and a dangerous battle begins to conceal the truth about the Rock’s poisonous wartime history. Detectives Sullivan and Broderick become caught in a tangled web of intrigue and murder that will once again test their skills and working relationship to the very limit.