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Death of a Nationalist (Tejada #1)

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  480 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
Praise for Rebecca Pawel:

"Pawel anchors a tense and exciting story with a terrific and complex plot."—Detroit Free Press

"[Pawel] turns the clock back to 1939 and Madrid’s tumultuous past. . . . An intriguing juxtaposition of the political and the personal."—Kirkus Reviews

"An intriguing tale amid the gloom of war-torn Madrid. It is a humane and moving portrait of a divid
Paperback, (Soho Crime), 280 pages
Published February 1st 2004 by Soho Crime (first published 2003)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jan 27, 2010 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Part of my murder mystery bonanza, further proof that I'm turning into my mother.

I thought I'd hate this book. I really dislike novels set in the Spanish Civil War on principle, probably due to an overdose of Hemingway in high school. And yes, I read 30 pages of this at the beginning of the month, and thought, "Ugh, well, can't stand it." But yesterday, I was at work, digging through the piles of things on my desk, and I found Death of a Nationalist peeking through the mayhem. And I gave it a s
Sep 16, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it
I was leery of the fascist with a heart of gold tone the books seemed to start with, but I was pleasantly surprised that Tejada ended up being a much more complex character. He’s neither a good fascist nor is he an exceptional detective, which I think is part of what makes him a sympathetic character. I was pleased, in a sick sort of way, that Pawel wasn’t afraid to make Tejada an apologist for the Nationalist cause and, he often uses the violence and brutality the Guardia Civil were known for. ...more
Dec 16, 2009 Gregory rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, politics
It is a murder mystery set in Spain just after the conclusion of the civil war. So who killed the Guardia Civil? The main character, Sergeant Carlos Tejada, thinks he knows and immediately executes the person. Then he gradually realizes (as the reader already knows) that he is wrong. How he deals with that is the core of the novel.

Two things make this book stand out. First is the landscape. You feel Madrid in the book, with the fear, pain, and uncertainty. She teases out the shortages of basic g
Sep 05, 2007 LJ rated it it was amazing
DEATH OF A NATIONALIST (Historical Novel/Mystery) – EX
Rebecca Pawel – 1st book
Set in Madrid, 1939, and the bitter civil war between the Nationalists, supported by the facists, and the Republicans, supported by the communists, with atrocities committed by both sides. It is at this moment, when the Republicans have surrendered, and the Guardia Civil has begun to impose order in the ruins of Madrid, that Carlos Tejada Alonso y Leon, a Sergeant in the Guardia Civil, finds the body of his best friend
Sep 26, 2013 Kim rated it it was ok
I hoped to love this book, because it is set in post-civil war Barcelona, which is a time period I am interested in, and because I do enjoy a good whodunit, and for the record, I would give this book 2.5 stars if I could. But meh sums this one up for me. It's entertaining enough, not poorly written, but predictable and ultimately forgettable. I think the strength of this book is that is takes a historical context that on the surface would have clear good guys - the conglomeration of anti-fascist ...more
Mar 14, 2012 Mmars rated it really liked it
Shelves: possible-bc, mystery
If anyone reads this and has suggestions for books about Spain under Franco, please let me know in the comment section. This was both well-written and historically themed. It took a bit to get the societal factions straight due to my lack of knowledge but it's a testament to Pawel's skill that I was able to follow it. Perhaps a female writer understands that hooking the reader with a human interest story, in this case that of a child witnessing a murder, compels people like me to keep on reading ...more
May 18, 2015 Kerry rated it it was ok
Recommended to Kerry by: David Moran
So . . . I only thought this book was okay. It was David's contribution to the Book Club White Elephant, so I thought it would be weird. (And have a protagonist who was selfish and existentialish.) But instead it was a pretty straightforward kind of mystery that takes place immediately following the Spanish Civil War. (Or maybe during it technically, I do not know.) And I don't know much about the Spanish Civil War, so that part was neat. But aside from that, none of the characters felt real to ...more
Jemera Rone
Sep 11, 2012 Jemera Rone rated it it was amazing
This was the first of this series I read and it made me want to read the rest, which I did. It stars very a unlikely detective-the hero, a Falangist detective in the National Guard in post-Civil War Spain (1940s) and his adroit and smart wife, who -- most unlikely indeed - is a former and defeated Republican school teacher from Madrid. Great plot although the romantic match is not exactly believable, and the setting is believable.
The first of the all-too-short series featuring Guardia Civil Lt. Carlos Tejada and his "Red" love interest, Elena Fernandez, at the end of the Spanish Civil War. As Carlos tries to reconcile his Fascist politics with his basic integrity, and Elena struggles against her attraction to a man who stands for everything she despises, we see how their relationship develops. Of course, there's a mystery to solve as well and it's a good one.
Oct 31, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: award-winner
This is a wonderful "street level" view of life in Madrid, Spain immediately after the Spanish Civil War. Couched as a murder mystery, the author poignantly describes for the reader how difficult and fragile life was during this difficult time in Spain's history. A worthy read with a surprising end! An Edgar Award Winner.
Sep 09, 2015 Jim rated it liked it
Average writing, but an intriguing post-Spanish Civil War setting.
Although one inevitably feels much more sympathetic toward the Republicans in this just-post Spanish Civil War novel, the main character, Tejada, a sergeant in the Nationalist Guarda Civil, is brutal, yes, but also complicated and ultimately human and capable of a moment of unexpected grace and mercy in the end. No cardboard figures here, and an interesting plot and setting, as well.
Sep 05, 2015 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, female-authors
Set in 1939, in the early days of Franco’s Spain, Death of a Nationalist is a murder mystery that doesn’t shy away from the complexities of history.

The Spanish Civil War, often considered a practice run for WWII, has recently ended and the short-lived Republic is no more. The Nationalists, backed by Nazi Germany and Italy, are the winners. The remains of the Republican army – a mixed bag of Communists, Socialists and Anarchists backed by the Soviet Union & Mexico,(and more quietly by England
Carl R.
Apr 09, 2013 Carl R. rated it really liked it
Seems to be my year for the Spanish Civil War. Touting Winter In Madrid to a friend led me to a series on the subject by Rebecca Pawel, and so Death of A Nationalist joins the Writer Working repertoire.

The world of this war pits the Republicans against the Nationalists. As always, there are splits and factions within each group, but in general the nationalists back Franco the semi-fascist dictator, the Republicans a communist-leaning group dedicated to the overthrow of the dictator. Unlike Winte
Jan 20, 2011 Jon rated it really liked it
A very honest book which pulls no punches and is exactly as disturbing as (I think) Rebecca Pawel intended it to be. It's set at the end of the Spanish Civil War, and the hero, if he can be called that, is a sergeant in Franco's Guardia Civil, notorious for its corruption and cruelty. I don't think I'm spoiling things if I recount that the book opens with the killing of a Guardia; Tejada, the hero, comes upon the corpse with a young woman we know to be innocent kneeling over it. He immediately a ...more
Feb 17, 2013 Alan rated it liked it
What first caught my attention about this book was its setting. Spain, specifically Madrid, just after their Civil War. Franco is in power and people are near starving, and the city is trying to recover from the war. A young school girl witnesses the murder of a Civil Guard (essentially a military force entrusted with civilian peace keeping and police duties) and in her run home loses her school notebook.

Enter Civil Guard Carlos Tejeda Alonso y Leon. He finds his best friend has been murdered,
Rob Kitchin
Jun 01, 2013 Rob Kitchin rated it liked it
The strengths of Death of a Nationalist are the atmosphere and sense of place. Pawel captures the general paranoia and landscape of Madrid at the end of a civil war, where neighbours are not sure who they can trust and sections of the population are being hunted and arrested, people are starving and either hardened or broken, and the buildings and streets are damaged from bullets and bombs. Sergeant Carlos Tejada is a complex lead character, a learned and cultured man but also a battle hardened ...more
Jan 05, 2008 rinabeana rated it really liked it
Shelves: series
I really don't know anything about the Spanish Civil war in the 1930s and I was properly horrified at the techniques of the Guardia Civil in terms of dealing with the republicans. I think it was very hard for me to understand what both sides had gone through. Tejada grew on me somewhat over the course of the novel, since he felt compelled to do what he could for Aleja and her mother at the end. Since I had already read Law of Return and The Watcher in the Pine, I knew that he really was a good m ...more
Nov 17, 2015 Charles rated it it was ok
As interesting as a mystery set in Madrid at the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War may be, the stage setting can't save a book without an ending.

The protagonist (Carlos) is a fine character. However, he is joined by a pantheon of clichéd men and women. Carlos's development also suffers (possibly from a lack of another 75 pages). How quickly would you expect a civil war hardened member of the Gardia Civil who executes a Communist women with his pistol on pg. 16, start sleeping with "Reds" and in
Jan 03, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it
Madrid in 1939 is stricken in the aftermath of a Civil war. So it is not surprising when a young girl witnesses the murder of a member of the Guardia Civil, she drops her school notebook. However, paper being rationed, the notebook is irreplaceable. So, on returning home, her aunt decides to take the risk of going out to retrieve the notebook. The murdered man turns out to be a friend of committed fascist, Sergeant Tejada Alonzo y Leon of the Guardia Civil, who is dispatched to investigate the k ...more
Margaret Sankey
Jan 28, 2015 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
Pawel deftly uses the moral ambiguities of the Spanish Civil War to create a compelling police procedural with a protagonist who, on the surface, the reader sets out set against (he's a fascist police officer, on the recently victorious side in 1939). As we become engrossed in his investigation, and in his worldview, it is a reminder of how the character himself embraced his political principles in the cause of law and order, and how easy it is for a whole society to pay the price for it.
Nov 08, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery

I this book is out of sequence (I read the 2nd mystery in the series 1st) , but it didn't at all
matter. The author is brilliant at creating both the atmosphere of fear and violence in Spain after Franco defeats the Republicans and of a murder investigation when murder is actually done carelessly every day for political reasons.
She also has created a detective/hero deeply
flawed and yet honorable and sympathetic. Only Donna Leon compares to this author.
Not a bad novel set in Madrid just after the Spanish Civil War. Pawel tells the story of a country still reeling from the ravages of a bitter internal war and the deprivation and angst as well as anger and fear that has gripped the population, both winners and losers. She also does a nice job of detailing how a police investigation can go wrong and can find itself sliding down pathways and alleys that are misleading and clearly wrong.

Nov 02, 2015 Francis rated it it was amazing
I don't often give five stars and when I do I don't know what to say. It just seems much easier to criticize than to praise. Praise sounds like gushing, like fluff, I liked this ...I liked that, while criticism sounds well learned, wise, like you've been around the block, you perceived the flaws, you've read better I don't know what to say, other than,

..I really liked this book.

Linda Bass
Jul 12, 2012 Linda Bass rated it really liked it
The Spanish Civil War on the eve of WW II is the historical setting for this mystery. Complex, multifaceted characters teach us about facism, communism and the interplay of personal and political loyalties in this environment. Although Carlos Tejada Alonso y Leon will instantly grab your attention, you'll be surprised by him throughout the novel. This is a first in the series featuring this character.
Jul 31, 2008 Shannon rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
good to have a new series to follow. sure, it's not perfect. but the setting is unique for a mystery, and tejada is an interesting protagonist. the facets of his character don't seem completely connected's hard to believe we're dealing with a single bag of bones, which is important for making a fascist sympathetic.
Mar 17, 2011 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, 2011
Nicely done first mystery, set in the days after the Spanish Civil War ended when tensions between Franco supporters and the vanquished Republicans were high enough for people to shoot first and ask questions later. Carlos Tejada, a member of the feared Guardia Civil must solve the murder of a friend. He gets a lot wrong but the pleasure of the novel turns on the moments when he gets it right.
Kent Hayden
May 22, 2016 Kent Hayden rated it really liked it
Great characters particularly the Guard Sargent and a setting and time that echoes the exotic Spain Civil War. Madrid, 1930's, Franco versus the Republicans. A police state with a 'Us or them' mindset. Embedded in this mystery is an implausible love story that still works despite the obvious conflicts of interest. I'm going on to the second one in the series.
Apr 17, 2011 Hwachs rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this, especially because it was a setting I was so unfamiliar with. I was worried for a while that Tejada would remain the same semi-amoral fascist throughout, but happily that is not the case.
Jan 17, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Love this series, especially Death of A Nationalist. I like reading anything set in Spain. In this case the author does a fantastic job making us root for the main character despite his flaws and his postion as a feared Guardia Civil.
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Rebecca Pawel was born in 1977 and was raised in New York City. She spent a summer studying in Madrid in 1994 and fell in love with Spain. She also majored in Spanish language and literature at Columbia University.

Death of a Nationalist was nominiated for Best first Novel for both the 2004 Anthony and 2004 Macavity, and won the 2004 Edgar Best First Novel. It was also a finalist for the LA Times B
More about Rebecca Pawel...

Other Books in the Series

Tejada (4 books)
  • Law of Return (Tejada, #2)
  • Watcher in the Pine (Tejada, #3)
  • The Summer Snow (Tejada, #4)

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“He felt now as if his entire body were recovering from frostbite, and he understood suddenly why people died in blizzards. It was not because they were cold and fell asleep. It was because it hurt too much to come back to life.” 0 likes
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