The Poisoned Rock (Sullivan and Broderick 2) by Robert Daws

The evil that women do…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Tamara Sullivan is still on secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, and is as intrigued as everyone else that a top Hollywood star has come to the island to make a movie. The film is about a war-time spy, known as the Queen of Diamonds, although no-one is quite sure whether she existed or is a legend. However, the film has triggered a lot of interest in this old story, not all of it positive. Soon Sullivan and her boss, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, find themselves investigating murder, but to understand the motive and find the culprit they will have to delve into the murky world of espionage on wartime Gibraltar, and the treacheries and betrayals that are still casting a dark shadow into the present…

This is the second in this series of police procedurals set on Gibraltar, and both Sullivan and Broderick already feel like well-established characters. The first, The Rock, was short – almost novella length – but this one is a full-length novel with a much more complex plot. I get a bit tired of Britain’s obsession with WW2 so had lowered my expectations a little, but I must admit Daws has found what feels to me like an original and credible way to make those long past days relevant to his plot. I soon turned my expectations back up, and settled in for a convoluted but never confusing ride through the shadowy world of agents and double agents, blackmail, intrigue and revenge.

The police procedural aspect is done very well. Daws shows the painstaking work of gathering information and evidence while never allowing it to bog the story down with too much detail. But the detectives get to the solution by proper police work rather than by unbelievable leaps of intuition or amazing coincidences. Sullivan and Broderick work well as a partnership, their confidence and trust in each other growing as they get to know each other better. We also see how they work within the wider team, and they try to stick within the rules as much as they can. Happily, the police are the goodies and the villains are the baddies – that shouldn’t feel refreshing, really, but it does! The whole thing leads up to a tense thriller ending, but one that stays well within the credibility lines.

The setting is great. Gibraltar is such an oddity – a little slice of leftover British Empire hanging onto the coast of Spain, and in this book, Daws show the tensions between the Spanish and Gibraltarian authorities over the contested peninsula. He also gives a good feeling for the Rock in wartime, used as a base of operations with most of the civilians evacuated and the place full of troops and spies, all plotting against each other. But it’s not one of the half-past/half-present stories that are so prevalent at the moment. This story takes place fully in the present with only brief snatches of the past, like flashbacks in a TV show.

Robert Daws

In fact, the whole thing reads very much like a blueprint for a TV show with short chapters taking us quickly between fast-moving scenes. Hardly surprising, given Daws’ background as a TV actor and writer, and I believe the series is under consideration for TV adaptation. I reckon it would work brilliantly and can’t help seeing Daws himself as Broderick.

I thoroughly enjoyed my second trip to Gibraltar with Sullivan and Broderick and am looking forward to seeing how the series progresses. I believe the third one is due out this summer sometime, but Amazon is being unusually secretive about the date! I shall be keeping my beady eyes open for it though. Highly recommended as a well-written, fast-paced and credible police procedural with likeable lead characters in an interesting setting – really, what more could you ask for?

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Urbane Press, via a giveaway on The Quiet Geordie‘s blog. Thanks again!

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36 thoughts on “The Poisoned Rock (Sullivan and Broderick 2) by Robert Daws

    • This one feels very much like a British one, because of Gibraltar’s strong British connections, which is partly what I like about it too. I think you might enjoy these – they’re not cosies, but they have that comfortably familiar feel about them even though the stories are quite gritty.

  1. You had me at the Gibraltar setting, FictionFan. What a great idea for a location and context. And I do like a police procedural where the police actually do the work, rather than, as you say, have those magical leaps of intuition. I give the author credit, too, for taking a fresh approach to the topic of WW II. Hmm…….don’t tell my TBR, but I may have to look up this series…

    • I love the setting too – I can’t remember ever reading a book set in Gibraltar before and it’s clear he knows it very well. Yes, I’m a big fan of the police behaving like police rather than superheroes or drunken mavericks, so this is just my kind of thing – and I suspect it might be yours too! Apologise to your TBR on my behalf… 😉

    • I love police procedurals too, especially when they feel realistic like this one does. And I’m really enjoying the Gibraltar setting – just enough to give the books an original feel!

  2. Happily, the police are the goodies and the villains are the baddies – that shouldn’t feel refreshing, really, but it does!——-

    This is good to read. In the States, I’m suspicious of police (especially when there’s evidence to feel that way), and I often look for SOME way to re-establish trust in law enforcement. Even fiction stories might help…

    • We have the odd problem with policing too but on the whole they behave like professionals and have improved over the years. That’s why I get fed up with them constantly being shown as drunken, violent mavericks in books – in real life, they’d be kicked out of the force!

  3. Ooh, ending the week on another high note, I see — excellent! I haven’t read this one, but it sounds so good. Not that I need to add to my reading list, of course — well, maybe one more won’t hurt, right?? Have a super weekend, FF!

    • Yeah, I remember being fed up with the war back in the 1970s – who knew we’d still be obsessed in the next millennium! 😉 This is shaping up to be a really good series, and the Gibraltar setting makes them feel original. 🙂

  4. I know absolutely nothing about the Rock of Gibralter, so I find this as a setting fascinating! It sounds like you learn a bit of geography/history with your mystery, which is good bang for your buck!

    • I do like this series – it’s not as grim and gritty as a lot of crime, but too substantial to be cosy. And the Gibraltar setting would make an ideal setting for TV… 😀

    • Hurrah! Haha – the whole instant gratification thing is too tempting, isn’t it? But hopefully you won’t regret it – it’s shaping up as a very enjoyable series… 😀

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