Pawel, Rebecca C. 1977-
PAWEL, Rebecca C. 1977-
Writer and educator. Spanish teacher in a high school in Brooklyn, NY.
Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, 2003, for Death of a Nationalist.
Death of a Nationalist, Soho Press (New York, NY) 2003.
Law of Return, Soho Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Rebecca C. Pawel, a high school Spanish teacher in Brooklyn, New York, uses the turmoil of the end of the Spanish Civil War as the setting for her first novel, Death of a Nationalist. Madrid in 1939 is a damaged and dreary landscape filled with demolished buildings, bomb craters, and sparsely populated streets. Resentment and hatred of the atrocities perpetuated by the fascist-supported Nationalists and the Communist-backed Republicans still seethe in the population. In this context, the Guardia Civil is tasked with maintaining order. That order breaks down, however, when Sergeant Tejada Alonzo y Leon assumes that the woman bending over the corpse of his friend, Paco Lopez, is his murderer, when in fact she was retrieving a notebook from the body. Carlos kills the woman and realizes his mistake, then becomes determined to find out the deadly importance of the notebook. In a parallel story, Gonzalo Llorente is released from prison only to discover that his lover, Viviana, has been murdered by a member of the Guardia Civil, apparently the woman that Carlos killed in his fit of mistaken rage. Gonzalo vows the find the guard who killed Viviana, which sets him and Carlos on a collision course that culminates in both characters' search for redemption at the novel's climax.
The "intertwined fates" of Gonzalo and Carlos "are handled with unusual skill and subtlety," wrote a Publishers Weekly reviewer. A Kirkus Reviews critic called Death of a Nationalist "an intriguing juxtaposition of the political and the personal." The brutalities of war are accurately and unsparingly depicted, but Pawel shows how powerful "little civilities and kindnesses" can be in such a bleak and violent atmosphere, the Publishers Weekly reviewer commented, also adding that the book "easily transcends the formulaic crime story."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002, review of Death of a Nationalist, p. 1574; December 1, 2003, review of Law of Return, p. 1384.
Publishers Weekly, December 2, 2002, review of Death of a Nationalist, p. 36; January 12, 2004, review of Law of Return, p. 40.
Soho Press,http://www.sohopress.com/ (July 10, 2003).*