Having studied the Spanish Civil War eons ago at school, and read George Orwell’ Homage to Catalonia, I was keen to read this book for a more modern take on that conflict, especially when The Assassin’s Mark was billed as an old-fashioned thriller of the non-gory kind, packed with intriguing and little-known historical facts. Just my cup of tea!
Full of Fascinating Facts
Very well written, this book oozes impeccable research, subtly woven into the story, and reveals astonishing historical facts. Who knew that Franco ran popular tourist bus trips of the battlefields? I was lucky enough to attend the book’s Bristol launch at which the author gave a fascinating talk adding even more interesting facts about the time, to the extent that by the end of his talk I was ready to sign up for the bus trip myself!
Relationships between the large cast of intriguing cast of characters become increasingly strained as the tension mounts, and the twists in the plot are masterful.
Politically Relevant Today
I could never have guessed the thoughtful, thought-provoking ending, even though the opening pages make it clear that the main character will meet his death by the end. (No plot spoiler here – the story starts with someone writing his obituary!) This book was much more “just” a gripping thriller – it was also a profound and moving comment on the impact of national politics on the life of ordinary citizens.
There was just enough appropriate humour to allow the reader a breathing space in the skilfully created tension, and although very much an international book, there’s also something very British about it. The perfect holiday read for anyone going to Spain for their holidays.
Spotlight on Spain
This book would make a great film to draw attention to a very important corner of European history that tends to get overlooked in the classroom and popular culture, being outranked in horror by World War II and Nazism. I’d also love to know what Spanish readers would make of it (I hear there’s a Spanish translation in the offing).
I hope there is more in a similar vein to come from this author.
David Ebsworth’s author website is at www.davidebsworth.com.