Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom

Cover image for Winter in MadridAfter a few disappointments with Amazon’s 20p Kindle bargains I was hoping that this book would restore my faith in the bargain basement, and it did – almost. Don’t expect anything even remotely similar to Sansom’s Shardlake series.

I’ve read books about the Spanish Civil War, and novels set in that period, but knew nothing about what happened in Spain after that war ended and WWII began. The author’s meticulous research makes this an informative and disturbing read.

As a source of entertainment it doesn’t work as well. It is slow-paced and, without a whiff of humour in its 500+ pages, it’s rather heavy going. When the pace picks up towards the end the complex scheme devised by the characters is hard to believe; I couldn’t help thinking that the plotters could have achieved their aims without the complications.

I’m glad I read it. There are powerful images of political and religious conflict, corruption and of the suffering of the Madrid population facing starvation while Franco sent food convoys north to feed Hitler’s army in France.

At the end of the book is an Historical Note that doesn’t appear in the table of contents. I recommend reading this first as a useful scene-setter, particularly as it makes clear that a number of the characters really existed.

I doubt that you will still be able to buy it for 20p, but It’s still available for Kindle from Amazon, and in print format. Winter in Madrid