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The Watcher in the Pine
by Rebecca Pawel

Category: Fiction / Historical
309 pages; ISBN: 156947379X

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Watcher in the Pine
Rebecca Pawel
Soho, Feb 2005, $24.00, 309 pp.
ISBN: 156947379X

In 1940, following the end of the Spanish Civil War, Guardia Police Lieutenant Carlos Tejada is assigned his first command position in the remote mountainous village of Potes. Tejada has mixed feelings about leaving his post in Salamanca, but the idea of being in charge has been an ambition of his even if the area is known by his peers as the Devastated Region from the destruction caused by the war. However, the locals including his police force of the northern Spanish village do not welcome the outsider or his pregnant wife Elena, a Republican sympathizer in spite of her husband’s official position in the Fascist government.

Carlos learns that his predecessor was killed by guerrillas and hopes to adjust to being an unwelcome outsider. Someone steals crates of dynamite that Carlos expects will be used by insurgents unwilling to accept defeat. Not long afterward a rebel is murdered. As Carlos investigates with no one cooperating inside the police, the village or his household, all signs point to a clever merciless guerrilla funded from outside Spain willing to kill to further his ambition of reigniting the war starting in Potes.

The police procedural elements are intriguing as the audience sees the efforts of an honest cop struggling to do his job in a dictatorial government. The story line showcases a bleak life for those who survived the civil war and how much no one trusts the opposition. This puts in perspective modern places like Sri Lanka. Though the mystery arrives late in the tale and, THE WATCHER IN THE PINE is a fabulous historical who-done-it.

Harriet Klausner


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