Brief description: Investigative reporter, Danny Sanchez, has lived eight years in Almeria, southern Spain, working for the British expat paper, Sureste News.
While working on his latest story – Kafkaesque bureaucracy leading to the demolition of an elderly couples’ home – a startling discovery is made: as the diggers begin to tear down the house, a decomposed body is revealed dangling between two walls, its head swathed in Gaffa Tape.
Set in Spain and London, Danny Sanchez deals with problems with his newspaper, his mother, and a breaking story concerning a body encased in the walls of a house in the process of being demolished.
In this first book in the series, Danny attends the demolition of a house owned by British ex-pats that he had interviewed when they first received notice that their home was to be torn down. The elderly couple is devastated by the prospect of losing their life savings due to legal tangles. When the body is discovered in the walls, Danny is reminded of case he covered in England during the early part of his career. But the scarecrow killer was convicted and resides in a psychiatric facility in England. Is this a copy-cat killing?
More sinister elements are revealed as Danny follows the thread in England. He is supposed to be taking time off, but can't curtail his curiosity about the similarities, and on returning to Spain, Danny finds himself and those he cares about in danger. More bodies are discovered, and the killer has an eye on Danny.
Crime/Suspense. 2012. Print length: 320 pages.
When I finished Scarecrow, NetGalley offered the latest in the Danny Sanchez series, and I eagerly downloaded it. Like Stolen Lives, Broken Arrow combines a real event with a murder mystery. "The military uses the term “broken arrow” to describe any incident in which a nuclear weapon is lost, stolen or inadvertently detonated." (source)
Drawing again from his journalistic experiences in Spain, Pritchard includes the unemployment and the corruption that plague many countries, but the crux of the plot goes back to an incident in 1966 when a US Air Force accident dropped 3 H bombs on southern Spain. I doubt many Americans remember the Palomares incident, not only because it was so long ago, but also because it happened elsewhere.
The first weapon to be discovered was found nearly intact. However, the conventional explosives from the other two bombs that fell on land detonated without setting off a nuclear explosion (akin to a dirty bomb explosion). This ignited the pyrophoric plutonium, producing a cloud that was dispersed by a 30-knot (56 km/h; 35 mph) wind. A total of 260 ha (2.6 square kilometres (1.0 sq mi)) was contaminated with radioactive material. This included residential areas, farmland (especially tomato farms) and woods. (Source)The mystery plot involves a cover-up attempt involving a residential area with an unusually high rate of cancer. Once again, Pritchard integrates fact and fiction in a compelling adventure that keeps Danny Sanchez attempting to stay a step ahead of disaster.
Corporate greed trumps humane policy. Now that doesn't sound like fiction, does it? Health and safety are disregarded more often than we like to admit when profit is at stake. (Broken Arrow is also available on Kindle Unlimited.)
If you want to read about the Palomares incident, you might try Broken Arrow - The Declassified History of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Accidents.
(read in March)
Mystery/Suspense. March 17, 2017. Print length: 368 pages.