The Watcher in the Pine

Written by Rebecca Pawel
Review by Lorraine Gelly

Lt. Carlos Tejada and his bride, Elena, are expecting their first child, in this, the third book in Pawel’s series set in post-Civil War Spain. Tejada has requested a transfer from Salamanca in the hopes that by starting over in a new location, the couple can put their political differences behind them in a place where no one knows them. Of course that is not to be; his nosy sergeant lets Carlos know that he has “read Elena’s file” and implies much with a sneer.

Nor do the locals welcome them with open arms. There is heavy guerilla activity in and around the village of Potes, and many of the villagers have family living in the hills with the rebels. Carlos is a decent and honorable man; in spite of the tenor of the times and the government’s position with regard to dealing with those operating outside of Franco’s law, he does what he can to keep the peace. The Guardia Civil in this area are constantly having run-ins with the bandits, and Carlos’s predecessor has been killed while on patrol. Carlos begins to believe that his job has put Elena and their child in danger.

The author deftly interweaves places and incidents from this time period with her fictitious characters, bringing to life a period of history about which many Americans are not knowledgeable. The coming of spring in the mountains, the people, their attitudes, and the history: it is all here. Pawel’s fans will not be disappointed.