The Sentinel (Vengeance of Memory Book 1)
His skilful achievement is to braid several sometimes deliberately? The depictions of Spain's economic and class divisions, post-war poverty, stresses within the military regime, shadowy foreign interests, tensions surrounding the s transition to secular democracy and different approaches among modern historians and jurists to recuperating La Memoria are particularly well handled.
While highly readable, The Sentinel is not a flawless masterpiece. A more serious criticism is that although Republican war crimes may have been exaggerated and in any event ended in , they are mentioned here only in the context of cynical justifications for revenge, arguably taking away from their real historical importance. Almost all the protagonists are somewhat two-dimensional, including the socially cool but politically lightweight leading investigator, Dr Ana Maria Galindez. She is one of only two strong female characters in The Sentinel; the other, Maria Alvarez, is the only person who inspires moral respect.
Nobody in the book is particularly likable. The main difficulty with The Sentinel is one of genre; is it a historical novel or a racy thriller? This is due to the author's sense of humour. At first I was discomfitted to find myself giggling through descriptions of dreadful atrocities; surely the bloody depictions of painful torture and violent death were supposed to inspire horror and pity rather than dark amusement?
Perhaps the problem was the old one of pathos vs. Then I realised that no, these scenes were indeed written with a slant akin to the cringe-inducing black humour of some modern British TV series. The Dominican gangsters in their zoot suits, the sinister secret agents and the brutish skinheads are pure stereotypes. The mad sargento and his Guardia Civil goons are cartoon caricatures, albeit sadly believable. Corrupt government ministers including one major historical figure, Admiral Carrero Blanco ooze cynicism as they plot and scheme against each other for the Caudillo's favour.
Teniente Peralta is a contemptible worm. Clearly a psychopathic monster with no redeeming qualities, incapable of sympathy or remorse, he is the ultimate essence of evil, and simultaneously the most interesting and intelligent person in the book. A self-deluding alcoholic, not only does he get to utter great Clint Eastwood style one-liners, usually at the expense of the pathetic Teniente or the victim s he is about to murder in cold blood, but even more surprisingly, he is also given the - highly unlikely, but maybe just about credible - love interest of the story.
Historical novels are often criticised as a genre for playing fast and loose with the periods they are set in. The Sentinel is, for now at least, ultimately sui generis. I very much look forward to reading the remaining two volumes of Mr. Oldfield's Vengeance of Memory trilogy. Jun 09, Christo rated it it was ok. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. A book that showed much promise, but in the end failed to deliver. Absolute class.
A nations history that this story suggests is as bad as the Nazis or Russian Communists and which remains silent. The book stars alone, And I didn't realise it was part of a trilogy. If the remaining books are as good as this then we're in for a treat. Sep 28, Sid Nuncius rated it really liked it. Some brilliance, some tedium This is a mixture of a book - terrific in parts but with some serious flaws which get in the way of it being the excellent novel it could have been.
Three stories are told simultaneously. The central tale set in Madrid in is bleak, gripping and brilliant. The compelling central character is Guzman, an utterly unprincipled, self-serving torturer and murderer who directs a unit of secret police for Franco's repressive fascist dict Some brilliance, some tedium This is a mixture of a book - terrific in parts but with some serious flaws which get in the way of it being the excellent novel it could have been.
The compelling central character is Guzman, an utterly unprincipled, self-serving torturer and murderer who directs a unit of secret police for Franco's repressive fascist dictatorship. The story is exceptionally well told, the atmosphere superbly conjured and the characters all horribly believable. There are also brief flashbacks to events in the Spanish Civil War during , also well done and whose significance becomes clear late in the book. Unfortunately, interspersed with these very good stories is a present-day tale of a forensic investigator and her two historian colleagues who are investigating Guzman's history and trying to piece together who he was and what happened in Sadly, I found this story trite, unconvincing and rather uninteresting.
Mark Oldfield is trying to show parallels between Franco's truth-suppressing totalitarian regime and postmodernist historians who regard history as narrative with no objective truth, but an exercise in personal interpretation where the truth is just what you can persuade people to believe. Now, I regard this approach and postmodernism in general as a toxic intellectual pollutant, so I am absolutely in sympathy with Oldfield here - but, oh dear, it does go on. Plastic characters, endless indignation about oppressive attitudes, a silly plot I have given this four stars because the story was so good, but the modern one is two-stars at best.
Frankly, I think you'd be best off skipping the present day bits: you'd miss almost nothing and could immerse yourself in a really good, informative and atmospheric historical thriller.
The Sentinel by Mark Oldfield | Waterstones
Nov 09, Rob Innis rated it really liked it. Against the scenes we have a modern day setting in and needless to say they are interlinked — along with the early back-story told in snapshots making this a truly complex and intriguing book with many plotlines and sub-plots finally combining into a real thriller ending — at least for the plot, maybe the story less so — as the reader will be rather expecting the modern day characters ending.
Certainly a good story combined with historical fact and worth reading. Some points were also laboured — yes a good book Mr Oldfield but sometimes less is more.
The Sentinel: Vengeance of Memory, Book 1 (Unabridged)
Maybe also just too many characters some of whom were left hanging — but I will be interested to see what he comes up with next. A lot of good points to praise about this strong shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller of novel, but plenty to criticise as well.. Anyhow, this is a tale set partly in Madrid in , and partly in the same place in There is an ambitious plot involving the Spanish Secret Police, and a forensic investigator putting together hidden historical mysteries half a century later - it's well writte Hmm.
There is an ambitious plot involving the Spanish Secret Police, and a forensic investigator putting together hidden historical mysteries half a century later - it's well written and involving, and complicated, lots in common with Tom Rob Smith's Leo Demidov series, and also quite a bit which reminded me of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's 'Cemetery of Forgotten Books' trilogy too.
It's an impressive debut novel, big and bold and pulling no punches.. Punches, and gunshots, were part of the problem. It's a very violent book - which in the post-war rough streets of Madrid was understandable though it became tiresome and lost impact , but in the parts was a bit unbelievable. A very high body count, lots of double-crossing, conspiracy, so many superhuman escapes and coincidences, and super bonus sexy Latino lesbians!
The author had thrown plenty at the story, and some of it stuck, but.. I was eye-rolling at some of the more cringe-worthy and tedious parts.
Jan 16, Labijose rated it really liked it. First of all, being a Spaniard myself, I would recommend to Mr Oldfild not to use a translator for all the Spanish expressions he uses. Some of them sound ludicrous! There are many grammar mistakes! I also understand that, for a no native reader, there are too many of them. Having said that, I really enjoyed the novel, although the part set in the present seemed to me the weakest one.
Besides, one can get the impression that all Spanish women are lesbians. I also found the book too lengthy. Anyway, it was worth the reading.
The Sentinel is a thrilling read. The prose skips between Spain's bloody past and the investigatory present day, where an ambitious forensic scientist tries to unravel its murderous truths. You are propelled into a world of post-war corruption, fear and manipulation. Guzman's cruelty and violence is amplified with graphic scenes akin to Quentin Tarantio style cinematography and gory detail. His ruthlessness aside, there is a sliver of humanity that glows like a dull candle in a breezy cold-stone The Sentinel is a thrilling read.
His ruthlessness aside, there is a sliver of humanity that glows like a dull candle in a breezy cold-stoned house. Whatever it would take to live in such a world calls upon deep courage and quick-thinking strategy. His identity must never be wholly discovered or that would ruin a lifetime of execution. As the plot thickens, this book is un-put-down-able! Apr 08, Marlene H rated it really liked it.
Got this thinking it was a straightforward 'forensic science' crime story. It is and much more than that. It's also following through on the bloody aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and its echoes in present day Spain. I had no idea that Franco sponsored such a level of post-war KGB-style killing off opponents.
As it happened I was in Spain when I read this and my Spanish friends tell me that Oldfiled is tapping into current concerns and difficulties re-surfacing as Spain tries to come to terms Got this thinking it was a straightforward 'forensic science' crime story. As it happened I was in Spain when I read this and my Spanish friends tell me that Oldfiled is tapping into current concerns and difficulties re-surfacing as Spain tries to come to terms with its recent history.
One criticism of The Sentinel: I think the ending doesn't do it justice but maybe he's going to write another volume. Mar 25, Nicola Greer rated it really liked it. I picked this up from my library, not realising it was part of a set.
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Thankfully it was the first one, and I soon got hooked. I know next to nothing about the Spanish Civil war, and found the story fascinating and informative. Alright, I know that some of it is quite graphic and unbelievable, but oddly I do think things like that did happen, and still happen now. All the characters were strong, if not very likeable, and I had to finish the story. All in all, I enjoyed the book and will carry on with the series. Anyone with an interest in recent Spanish history and the Spanish Civil War will probably get something out of this novel, as I did.