Law of Return

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Set in the 1940’s amid the turbulent political events pervading Europe, history and atmosphere play a significant role in this Lieutenant Carlos Tejada investigation. Recently assigned to Salamanca in the national police force, Tejada, a veteran of the fighting in Madrid, assumes the responsibility of supervising the so-called petitioners, former university professors whose signing of a petition in 1936 indicated their antagonism to what became the ruling regime. He encounters Elena, daughter of one of the petitioners, a self-proclaimed Red, and a woman he had met while on duty in Madrid.

Additionally Tejada investigates the murder or disappearance of another of the petitioners, former law professor and former professor of Tejada when he attended the university. This university education distinguishes Tejada from his colleagues and prompts moral decisions that would never be tolerated by his hard-line supervisor.

One of these decisions supports Elena Fernandez in helping her father expedite the escape of former colleague, a Jew, from Occupied France. Smuggling him across the French and Spanish border connects her with Tejada arriving at the same border exploring a lead in the professor’s disappearance. Tejada helps the fugitives. Motivated by stress, exhaustion, and attraction, Tejada and Elena give into their romantic feelings. Then each returns home to further complications as they try to be true to themselves and their respective goals.

While Law of Return at times employs words or remarks that seem out of character, mostly the work presents a compelling picture of a particular historical moment. The two plots involve mystery and romance while emphasizing the individuals’ struggles of moral consciousness.