This Paul Hollis thriller is told mostly from the first-person perspective of a man identified simply as Doc, his full real name not given at any point in the novel, the first chapter opening with him at a sixteenth-century cathedral where the funeral of a child is occurring. The initial setting is the twilight years of Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s Spain, with terrorists assassinating his Prime Minister, Luis Carrero Blanco, with the last major murder of a European head of state having occurred back in 1934. It is said that Franco was merely ruling as Spain’s regent since the last monarch before he came to power never officially abdicated, and true to history, the country’s royal restoration is imminent.
Throughout the novel, Hollis gives occasional historical tidbits of his story’s various settings, including Navarre in Spain, spread on both sides of the Alba River and at the time of the novel is home to 140,000 citizens with summer tourism peaking at 20,000 tourists. He moves to Pamplona, with those responsible for the Prime Minister’s death supposedly being a Basque nationalist terrorist group, Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA). The novel ultimately reveals that Doc earned his nickname due to his work at keeping a mortuary clean, and he is ultimately paired with a woman named Zita.
The setting eventually shifts to France, specifically Paris, with more occasional tidbits such as the city’s Gate du Nord being among the busiest train stations in Europe, with French President Georges Pompidou to be a keynote speaker at the imminent opening of the Charles du Gaulle Airport, specifics given about its capacities. The novel ultimately reaches a satisfying conclusion, although Doc himself remains something of an enigma, and the book is regularly peppered with Spanish and French conversations, sometimes with translations, but at other times without. Even so, this thriller is recommended reading.
Having lived in twelve states and eventually working in all fifty, he fell in love early with seeing the world on someone else’s money. Since then, he has lived abroad nine years while working in forty-eight countries, spanning five continents. These experiences helped Paul Hollis bring his own unique viewpoint to his mesmerizing thrillers.