Guest Post Spain, Guard my Bones

Today I’m hosting a guest post by Jack Thompson, author of crime thriller “Spain, Guard my Bones”. Welcome, and thanks for visiting my blog! I’ll leave the word to author Jack Thompson now.

Guest Post

Spain is unique. Not as a holiday destination. Other countries clearly compete. But Spain’s history, art and culture, have no parallel in Europe or elsewhere, an almost endless list of names can confirm this. The painters, Goya, Picasso, Dali, El Greco, Velasquez, Murillo; Cervantes, the writer of the very first European novel; the poet, Lorca; the musicians, Albéniz, Granados, De Falla and a host of flamenco artists; plus the legacy in architecture left by the Muslims of Andalucía.

Spanish football’s is a notable aspect al (Real and Barça), as are its tennis players. But many Spanish are turning their backs on the blood-soaked traditions of bullfighting. It’s even banned in Catalonia, partly because the region wants outsiders to see it as culturally separate from the rest of Spain, even independent in its own right. But that’s another story.

Spain though is made ever more interesting by its dark side, not least the brutal civil war in the late 1930s. Franco’s Nationalist rebels fought and defeated Republican government forces. It took them three years. They showed their enemies no mercy. Thousands of soldiers and civilians opposed to Franco were tortured and killed. It was in effect genocide against his own people. Their bodies were shovelled into mass graves and left to rot.

Franco died in1975. Many Spanish welcomed the revival of parliamentary democracy and some sought to exhume the remains of the slaughtered and bury them with dignity. But prejudice in Spain dies hard. Those harking back to what they saw as the stability of Franco’s 36-year dictatorship opposed anything that might remind them of the ruthlessness of the old regime. They are still to be found on the right of the political spectrum. On the left are socialists and communists, accepting among other things the restoration of the monarchy but determined that the Spanish should not forget its past.

Attempts at reconciliation have never really worked even though the political parties subscribed to agreements designed to make the new regime a success. Older people have been reluctant to put aside their differences. This may now be changing as a new generation takes over.

Into this scenario steps my shambling British journalist, Charlie Barrow. He finds the exhumation story fascinating, one he must write up in detail. But in researching it all, he makes enemies, in particular a right-wing politician called Ortiz, anxious to restore dictatorship by means of a coup d’état. Ortiz recruits an embryonic private army made up mainly of Moroccan jihadists but disappears when he’s charged with murder. Charlie wants to find and expose him.

Charlie has staunch friends and allies; a dwarf, Carlito, who is a human rights lawyer; Elena, a beautiful archaeologist; and Manresa, an enlightened officer in the intelligence services.

Charlie gets the story he wants. He unmasks the right wing politician but loses Elena and Carlito along the way.

Into the fabric of the story I have tried to weave coverage of the status of dwarves in Spanish society; the revelation that Carlito is not just a lawyer but a fine player of flamenco guitar music; and suspicions that, even though Elena and Charlie fall in love, she is not quite what she seems. Is she a political agent and which party does she really work for? I have also tried to evoke the atmosphere in present-day Spain with the rise of new parties trying to rid the system of a long-standing and corrupt stitch-up between the main forces of left and right. And in Colonel Manresa I have the ‘good cop’, a different breed from his predecessors under Franco.

The book is a mixture of invention, imagination and references to real people and real events. And I make no apologies for taking sides. Ortiz is an unreconstructed villain. Charlie is a good, honest hack but with foibles aplenty. In a way, Carlito is my favourite character but even he makes mistakes, as when he drags Charlie to his dwarf village in the mountains and shows that he can’t handle the complications of family life.

There’s a lot to digest in this book. But I hope it’s in the best traditions of thriller writing in the English language.

Jack Thompson

About Spain, Guard My Bones

Journalist Charlie Barrow originally intends to explore Spain as a tourist, to relax and escape from the pressures of work. But after his arrival in Castillo, where a mass grave of Civil War victims has been discovered, Barrow can’t resist the temptation to follow his gut and seek answers. Accompanied by an intelligent lawyer, Carlito, and a beautiful archaeologist, Elena, Barrow wastes no time making enemies of a powerful political party and another, misguided, lawyer, Ortiz.
Chasing the story of corruption in a land where old-fashioned political prejudices die hard, Barrow travels from country to city, and back again. Dodging bullets, Arab bodyguards, and untrustworthy officials, the shambling journalist seems certain to face many triumphs as well as the loss of friendships, loves and hopes.

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