Why do I set my fictional crime novels in Spain?

It hit me one freezing February morning in 1990 or thereabouts. I was shivering on the platform at Weybridge Railway Station at the time. As I looked around at the same old miserable commuters suffering the damp, polluted air while staunchly defending their regular patch of concrete, I began to question my sanity. Did I appear the same to them? Was this all I had to look forward to for the next twenty-five years? Then came the dreaded announcement. Leaves on the line. It was that day’s original excuse for a twenty-minute delay. Once again, the 07.41 to Waterloo would be packed and I’d be jammed outside the toilet with someone’s newspaper rustling in my ear. Great. Super. I thought, as the completion of the day’s tedious tasks ahead would now slip further behind due to no fault of mine. That was enough. I was done. Beam me up, Scotty.

Not having any desire to strip naked on a pebble beach feigning my disappearance to a distant pig farm, I chose the next best escape route. Thankfully, my parents had retired to Nerja, Spain many years previously. I would join them and work out what to do after my arrival. I was forty-odd years of age, almost divorced but still way too poor and young to retire or do nothing. Surely, there was still time to reinvent myself, but as what? Fate would soon intervene.

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Amanda Salisbury

Amanda Salisbury

Now, 33 years old, Amanda was born in Annapolis, Maryland where her father was stationed at the US Naval Academy. He was posted to the shared Spanish USA base at Rota near Cadiz when Amanda was seven. Her mother was born in Washington DC but continued to remain close to her Moroccan origins teaching her daughter Arabic and French. Amanda attended the local school and gained a place at Madrid University for a Media Studies course. Her room mate was Salome Mendosa who went on to become one of Spain’s most popular Flamenco dancers.

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Phillip Armitage

Phillip Armitage, translator in the Andalusian Mystery Series

Armitage by name, Army by nature. Phillip’s, note the two LLs, family motto originated from several successive generations serving her majesty in various conflict zones around the world when Rule Britannia was supposed to mean something. His parents, both covered in diesel oil, met over the broken guts of a tank engine in Paderhorn, The British Army base in Germany. He attended the local school and grew up speaking the two languages. Like the author, he was shipped off to a military boarding school at the tender age of eleven on the white cliffs of Dover, England, where he learned how to march, shoot, sail dinghies around in the harbor and the rudiments of academia. Like most cadets he went on to join the British Army and after basic training opted for the Intelligence Corps stationed near Bedford. He served two tours in Afghanistan.

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Detective Inspector Leon Prado

Detective Inspector Leon Prado

In Spanish, Prado translates as meadow. A green and fertile place where nature thrives. It also serves as a surname. I had the pleasure to work with a property developer called Pepe Prado. Pepe was a distinguished character, a true caballero through and through. Unusually, his parents had shipped him off to Germany to study construction engineering and learn another language. On his return, he joined Bau Hoffman, a large German building company converting the dying sugar cane fields along the Torrox coast into what is today Torrox-Costa. When they overtraded and went bust, Pepe took them over from the bank and later developed Torrox Park. Appropriately, a lush green space with luxury properties on what would otherwise be scrubland. It was only logical for Leon Prado to have similar personality traits. His first name is Leon because I liked the synergy and music of the combination.

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Andalusian Mystery Series Inspired by an Actual Murder

Welcome

Did you know that the Andalusian Mystery Series was inspired by an actual murder?

In September 2008, a pretty, young Argentinean girl was stabbed to death by her jilted lover. It happened at nine o’clock in the morning, in broad daylight at the café where she worked. It’s right in front of Nerja’s main church on the renowned Balcon de Europa, the heart of this beautiful place. The blood stains could be seen for weeks.

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Excerpt from Darkness in Vélez-Málaga

Chapter 1

The allure of enthralling entertainment at Málaga’s prestigious temple to the arts was proving irresistible. The bustling tapas bars surrounding Plaza de La Merced were beginning to empty as the migration toward the grand Cervantes Theater gained momentum. Spain’s premier Flamenco dancer, Salome Mendosa, was due on stage for her third of four weekday performances in the provincial capital.

From all over the province, dedicated fans were flocking to the richly decorated eclectic styled theater, inaugurated in 1870. The light was fading fast on a balmy December evening. A half-moon was peeking over the rooftop antennas.

An elegantly dressed, tall athletic man in his early forties with shaggy blond hair and steel-blue eyes was seated on a terrace table at Restaurant Cortijo de Pepe overlooking the tree lined plaza. He raised his eyes at the attractive, younger woman opposite. She nodded.

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Excerpt from Darkness in Ronda

Chapter 1

1986

“Ugh,” screamed Leon Prado as a fierce black bull gored him in the groin with its right horn. The beast hoisted him above its head and tossed him five meters through the air as easily as a feather pillow. He landed on the arena sand with a heavy thump. The crowd gasped as attendants rushed to save him from more punishment by flapping their capes at the rampaging monster. Hopefully, they would distract it from finishing Prado off. He lay motionless, the pain was excruciating, and blood spurted everywhere. His blood.

He opened a bone-weary eye and blinked several times as the haunting nightmare faded, and reality started to bite. “Where the fuck am I?” he said to himself with a growing sense of unease as he sat up. “And why is my head thumping so badly?”

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Excerpt from Darkness in Málaga

Malaga Featured Image

Chapter 1

“Don’t you dare touch me,” screamed Angelika in Spanish as she barged through the gymnasium door.  Her long, silky, blonde hair swirling as she ran down the school entrance steps. 

“Then stop running away from me,” said Mateo letting go of her shoulder. “I need to talk to you.” “I’ll miss my bus.” 

“Then catch the next one; this is important.” Angelika stopped and glared at him, breathing hard,  “what do you want?” 

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