Stolen Lives by Matthew Pritchard

‘Danny didn’t need to ask directions: he could smell the place a mile off.  Literally.’

Almería, Spain. The body of a missing woman is found, dumped in landfill. It’s obvious, in the view of the right-wing press: the woman was a drug user, she had prior convictions, she’d previously run away.  Her death, therefore, is unimportant, a consequence of her lifestyle choices.

But freelance journalist Danny Sanchez is not convinced. Teresa del Hoyo had been drug-free for a year and, with two others, had been looking into events dating back to the Spanish Civil War.  The church also seems interested in what Teresa and her friends were investigating.  With Teresa and one of her colleagues dead and the third missing, Danny digs deeper.

Danny’s investigations lead him to uncover a few separate schemes and secrets.  These schemes and secrets involve corruption and politics as well as the church. And there are some who will kill in order to protect these secrets.

While this novel is based on real and heartbreaking events, Mr Pritchard introduces a few twists.  Danny Sanchez is a likeable protagonist, flawed and with a history of his own.  We learn more of his backstory as the novel unfolds, as well as about some of ‘los niños robados por el franquismo’ – the children stolen from their parents during the Franco regime.

I found this novel both sad and intriguing.  Sad because of the events referred to, intriguing because of the way in which the story unfolded.  This is the second novel in Mr Pritchard’s Danny Sanchez series.  I’m already looking forward to the third.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Sapere Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith