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First pages


‘Throughout the last seven days of our journey from the coastal town of Guayaquil in pursuit of Gonzalo Pizarro* did we march through thick forest without sensing, in even the smallest measure, that the heavy rain which fell constantly upon us might to any degree diminish. We little band of twenty-three could not mount our horses as we lack’d a trail of even the slightest kind. Tediously did we have to slash and slice with our machetes to fashion a route through the tangled undergrowth, as our feet and the hoofs of our horses did all the while slip and slide in the heavy mud. We were drench’d all the while by the downpour that did endlessly issue from heaven. The water seep’d ceaselessly through armour and apparel. It did trickle and itch its course down my skin on the inside of my cotton undergarments. It collect’d inside my steel boots and with every step did it squirt back up my legs and, after, drip back down to pool on sole. We did hardly sleep at night as much for the continual drumming of the rain on the roofs of the shelters, which we ingeniously invent’d each evening, as for the piteous whinnying of the horses, that remain’d without shelter of any kind.’

*Gonzalo Pizarro was a Spanish Conquistador and the brother of Francisco Pizarro. He was born in Trujillo, Spain. He led an unsuccessful expedition in Peru starting in February 1541 in search of cinnamon and gold. He was joined on this expedition by Francisco de Orellana who was sent to Guayaquil for the purpose of recruiting more troops and horses.

Marquez Manuscript, sheet 2


He was lying on a beach in the sun watching the bronzed bodies walking past. The sun was hot on his chest as he propped himself up on his elbows. One particularly attractive set of nicely-shaped suntanned legs went by and he exchanged smiles with the owner. He didn’t immediately jump up – no need to look too keen, yet in no time at all they were in a bar surrounded by other well-tanned people talking about nothing important. Two cocktails with green leaves and umbrellas resting on the side of the glasses sat in front of them on the bar when the door bell rang. Andrés thought that was odd because he didn’t remember a door. It rang again and he looked round. As he thought, they were in a beach bar and there were no walls and definitely there wasn’t a door to be seen. Then the bell rang a third time.

The phone call that Tuesday morning, the ninth of June 2009, woke Andrés rudely from his wonderful dream. He was half in this world and half in the beach bar of his dream world as he pressed the handset to his ear. “Yes?” he mumbled. He looked at the bedside clock through half-open eyes and, just before his eyelids obscured the view once more, registered that it was quarter past three. “Who is it?” he asked. Then he heard the familiar voice of María, his parents’ Peruvian maid.

“Oh, sir. I am sorry to trouble you at this hour but … your father … he ask that you come immediately. He has been taken ill … Oh, I must go; the doctor is at the door. Please, sir, come quickly.”

“What?” Andrés asked, but the line was already dead.


Andrés Castellón Navarro sat bolt upright in bed, his beach bar now completely gone. His father, ill? How ill? What was the problem? He looked again at the clock, but it hadn’t changed. This time, however, its meaning penetrated past his muddy thoughts and he realised that he couldn’t have been asleep much more than half an hour, an hour at the most. His heart told him to jump into his car and drive straight to his parents’ house in Trujillo, but his head told him to shower first while the percolator made a strong cup of black coffee: he would need to be awake for the drive.

The shower made him feel better and, after drying himself, he looked in the mirror. He needed a shave. But he decided to skip that; he could shave at his parent’s house – if he was going to be there for any length of time. His eyes looked tired, but he hoped the coffee would do something about that. He dressed quickly in T-shirt and jeans and wondered what the problem with his father’s health could be as he sipped his coffee. As far as he knew his father was in rude good health, well as rude and as good as a seventy year old could expect. The coffee cleared his head and, before leaving his Madrid flat, he thought to pack a small bag of clothes, not knowing how long he would be away – but only a small bag: he wouldn’t need many clothes in central Spain in early summer. Furthermore, he didn’t for a minute think he’d be away for more than a couple of days as he didn’t think his father was likely to be seriously ill.

* * *

Agent Fernández was in a flat across the road from Andres’s block and barely into his midnight to midday shift when he became aware of a light going on in the block of flats opposite. When he checked, he saw that it was in the flat he was tasked with keeping under surveillance. He’d seen the floor plan of the target’s flat and knew that the light had come on in the bedroom. Probably the target needed a quick bathroom break and would be asleep again soon. But then other lights came on: the kitchen, the living room and the bathroom. This certainly deserved noting in his log book.

After half an hour the bedroom light went out, followed by the kitchen and finally the living room. Obviously, the target was not going back to bed; either he was now sleeping on the sofa or he was leaving the flat. Agent Fernández gathered his log book and his field glasses and left the flat before racing down to his car which was parked in the road outside. He didn’t immediately get into his car but just hung around watching for developments. He was rewarded by the sight of the target driving out of an underground garage in his flashy BMW. He casually got into his car and set off in pursuit. Tailing him through Madrid was ridiculously easy in the light traffic. It would have been much more difficult in the morning rush hour when he would have had to stick to the BMW’s rear bumper like superglue in case it jumped a red light, like ninety percent of all the drivers in Spain’s capital city seemed to do regularly.

* * *

Andrés was musing that the drive to Trujillo from Madrid was not difficult at that time of morning, but it was tedious. He put a CD of one of his favourite guitarists, Andrés Segovia, into the in-car player and the wonderful sounds of the guitar preludes by Villa Lobos surrounded him. He liked Segovia but he acknowledged that his rhythms in the first Prelude were somewhat quirky and better handled by other players. Nevertheless, he loved listening to the effortless transition from first to second section, a passage that he always struggled with himself.

Soon he found he became preoccupied with thoughts about his father. María had not said how seriously ill his father was, and for her to call in the middle of the night like that did suggest that he was bad, or at least his father thought he was bad. But Andrés was an eternal optimist. When twelve years earlier his employer had gone bankrupt, instead of bemoaning the loss of his job, he saw it as a wonderful opportunity to set up his own consultancy. When his offices were broken into and his computers stolen he saw it as a sign that he should have his offices in a better district of Madrid. Consequently, as he drove, he convinced himself that his father was going to be just fine after a needless scare. Deep down, he knew his father would be OK and by the weekend, or maybe the next weekend, they would go horse riding in the countryside again.

His thoughts were so focussed on his father he hardly noticed the road, but then it was a road he knew well. Little wonder then that as he approached Talavera he was stopped by the Guardia Civil for exceeding the speed limit of a hundred and twenty. It was a fair cop; he had been doing a steady hundred and forty kilometres an hour – at least. Perhaps if the early morning summer sun hadn’t just been spilling over the horizon and dazzling the view in his rear-view mirror he might almost have noticed them. But he doubted it.

The members of the Guardia Civil traffic division are not noted for a sense of compassion so Andrés didn’t think for a moment to explain why he had been driving so fast. He just waited patiently while the officers performed vehicle and licence checks and noted down his details on their forms. They warned him to expect a fine through the post. He knew the form; he had been caught speeding before.

Finally they let him go. To begin with, he was more circumspect about his speed but soon the needle was hovering around the one-forty mark again. He wanted to get there quickly for he had a pretty good idea why his father had summoned him. All his life, he had been reminded that the family had, for many centuries, kept a secret – a very important secret – and that it was passed down from father to oldest son. He had never been given any clue what the secret concerned even though, God knew, he had tried hard enough to prise hints from his parents. His mother always professed ignorance and complained that his father wouldn’t tell her anything about it, and maybe she really didn’t know. His father would only smile and say, “all in good time.” Andrés knew that the secret had always been passed on late in a father’s life, usually not till the first sign of decline, so as to minimise the period of time that the secret was known by more than one person. He was in little doubt that his father felt the time had finally come, and Andrés was intensely curious to finally find out what this secret was.

* * *

Once they’d got onto the A5 towards Badajoz and Lisbon, Agent Fernández had been able to practice many of the tailing manoeuvres taught in the training course: tailing at a distance, actually allowing the target out of sight so that his own car, particularly at night with headlights, would not be a constant factor in the target’s rear-view mirror and occasionally tailing with his own lights off, it being a bright moonlit night and getting even brighter as dawn approached. As soon as the sun made it over the horizon he turned his lights off to draw as little attention to himself as possible. When the target had been stopped by the Guardia Civil he had been forced to overtake and tail from the front. That was a particularly difficult technique, especially as the Guardia had kept him by the roadside for a good twenty minutes.

He’d driven until he was nearly out of sight of the target’s car, maybe a couple of kilometres further on, then stopped by the roadside. In a daring improvised move that hadn’t been taught during training, he put on the mandatory high visibility jacket, took the car jack out of the boot and jacked the car up till the nearside wheels were just off the road so that anyone passing would assume he was changing a tyre. He crouched down as if attending to the front wheel but all the time watching the target and the Guardia Civil. When the target passed him, he’d quickly lowered the car, threw the car jack back into the boot and jumped back into his car. In no time at all he was back up to speed, tailing the car about one and a half kilometres back. He felt sure the target had not been alerted to his presence at any stage.

* * *

At quarter past six Andrés took the exit from the A5 for the centre of Trujillo, drove into the town and headed south. Just before exiting the town he turned left onto a minor road that soon became a country track. He rushed along the track and a couple of kilometres later he finally pulled into the grounds of his parent’s house.

It was quiet and stood alone, sombre. There were no cars in the drive, no people in the garden. The house was silent, aloof. He was not sure what he had expected to see; the doctor’s car, perhaps, or his mother’s face looking out of a window waiting for him to arrive? There was nothing. He got out of his car and closed the door. He was not worried about this encounter with his father because he just couldn’t believe his father was seriously ill, let alone about to die, so he walked briskly over the gravel to the door with the usual spring in his step. María answered the door and let him in.

“Good morning María,” he said brightly. “I don’t normally associate you with greeting the dawn chorus. I expect the old bugger’s been keeping you up all night, has he?” He took a couple of steps past her, oblivious of the emotion in her face. Andrés, an architect, was brilliant at dealing with problems of building blocks, drains and cable runs and not so good with people. “So where’s my father? Usual bedroom?”

She turned her black eyes, brimming with tears, towards him. “Sir. I’m so sorry. You are too late. He’s gone.”

“Gone?” Andrés said. “Gone? Where? Which hospital?”

“No sir. I mean … he’s gone.” She turned away and shuffled towards the staircase. As the meaning in her words finally penetrated his mind a pit opened up in his stomach. Then Andrés became aware that he could hear quiet sobbing coming from upstairs, his mother he assumed. Gone? No, this was not how it was meant to be. Not at all. His father was supposed to be lying in bed, sipping a brandy, waiting for him to arrive so he could be chided for being so late. Never mind that the Guardia had nabbed him for speeding. Never mind that he’d left Madrid in the middle of the night. Then he was going to get Andrés to kneel and put his ear close to his father’s mouth while the secret was whispered.

His father was most certainly not supposed to be dead!


‘Of all the wondrous things created by our Lord must rain be the most vexatious. It doth rust the fine steel from which our weapons and armour are made. Each night in camp do we have to spend hours polishing the hilts of our swords and the outsides of our armour suits from the helmets to our boots. And after the polish must we apply oil to save it from rain but so heavy is this cursed precipitation that it cleanses off the oil with but an hour’s marching. How eagerly we do anticipate meeting with Pizarro who hath with him many native servants who shall clean our steel for us. But for all our endeavour we cannot polish inside our boots and arm pieces where the steel does remorselessly rust, and every day do our undergarments become ever more coloured amber by this corrupted steel.’

Marquez Manuscript, sheet 3


He walked slowly up the stairs toward the sound and found his mother in the master bedroom. In the bed, he could see the body of his father looking as if peacefully asleep. In the chair, his mother was crying quietly into a handkerchief. He walked over to her, knelt down and put his arms round her. He stayed like that until she finally acknowledged his presence.

“Oh, Andrés,” she said. They greeted one another with the customary kisses on both cheeks. His mother rubbed her face and her face quickly adopted a look of reproof. “Are you growing a beard?” she challenged.

“No. But I had to leave in a hurry and decided not to waste time shaving.”

“Well, you might as well have done. It was so quick you’d never have got here in time. I had no idea it could be so quick. There was so much to say, and we had no time to say it. After the first pain in his chest we were talking about doctors and hospitals … and you, of course. He just wouldn’t stop saying you had to come and asking when would you get here. ‘I must talk to Andrés,’ he kept saying. The doctor wanted to take him to the hospital but the nearest ambulance was half an hour away and before it arrived … he’d …” She stopped for a moment. “I didn’t even have time to tell him how much I loved him. One moment he was telling the doctor to stop fussing and the next it was all over. Do you think he knew I loved him?” she asked.

“Of course he did,” Andrés replied. “He always used to say how lucky he was to have married you. After forty years of marriage you don’t have to tell someone you love them. They know.”

“Do they? Do they really?” she asked, needing reassurance.

“Yes, they do. Tell me mother, did he love you?”

“Oh yes. I know he loved me that’s why it’s so important that he knew, before he died, that I loved him too. Don’t you see that’s important?”

“Yes I do see. But answer me this question. Did he tell you he loved you?”

“Your father! Can you see him telling me that he loved me? He’d rather lie naked on a hornets’ nest. No, he didn’t tell me, at least not for the last thirty-five years. Yes he told me when we were courting and when we were just married, but not after that. But he didn’t need to. I knew he loved me.”

“That’s my point,” Andrés said. “he didn’t need to tell you, and you didn’t need to tell him.”

“I see what you mean. I can understand it in my head, but I don’t feel it in my heart,” she said, and fell silent.

For maybe ten minutes they stayed silently like that, his mother sitting in the chair and Andrés kneeling by her side, staring into space or looking at the body lying so peacefully in the bed. Andrés was also shocked, but more than that he was confused. How could his father go and die like that? It wasn’t in the script. What now?

“Do you know why he was so anxious to see me?” Andrés said at last, and immediately regretted the stupidity of the question. Obviously his father would want his only son by his side if he thought he was dying, secret or no secret.

“Well he wouldn’t tell me,” his mother replied, suddenly animated, angry. “I assumed it was that silly secret of his. But what could be so secret that he couldn’t tell his wife? I ask you. I mean, it’s not natural for a man and wife to keep secrets from each other. I would never have dreamt of hiding anything from him. I could have understood it if he had had a mistress and didn’t want to tell me, but I’m sure it was nothing like that. Well it wouldn’t be would it, this mystery that is given from father to son? It’s misogynist nonsense. Women can’t be trusted, is that it? I often thought about all those wives who went before me and were insulted just as I was. Well, now he’s died without passing this secret on to you. Perhaps that will be an end to this once and for all. Perhaps you and your offspring and their wives can now live normal lives. I’m not sorry in that respect that he died before you came, but I am sorry for you, and him, that you weren’t here. I don’t know if I’m making sense. Do you understand me, or am I talking rubbish?”

“Well, I’d never thought of it before, not in those terms,” Andrés replied, somewhat taken aback by his mother’s outburst. She looked at him with questioning eyes. He hadn’t said enough, that was clear. “Right …,” he said, wondering what else he was supposed to say, “I can understand your feelings about the secret, now you’ve explained it, and I understand that at the same time you wish I’d been here. It must be difficult for you, such conflicting emotions.”

“Thank you, Andrés,” she said and gave out a long sigh as her shoulders dropped. “Well, I’d better go and sort out the undertakers,” she said staring at the floor as she walked slowly out of the room. Andrés watched her leave then stood and looked at his father’s body. Now on his own, his eyes filled and he had to blink to see properly. The pit in his stomach knotted as he was filled with remorse. He’d arrived too late to see his own father before he died. How could that be? There must have been something he could have done to arrive earlier. ‘Will you forgive me?’ he wondered, followed by, ‘Will I ever forgive myself?’ But then even as he stood there filled with sadness, his thoughts changed. ‘So what would you have told me if I’d got here earlier?’ he wondered. Immediately he regretted the thought. But he refused to feel guilty about it. How could he not be obsessed with this secret when his father had made such a big deal about it all those years, pricking his curiosity without giving the slightest hint of what it might be about?

It was a bad start to his Tuesday, and he guessed he’d be staying for a couple of days at least. He made a note to call his secretary later and ask her to cancel all his appointments.

* * *

Agent Fernández was standing near the edge of a small clump of trees. They were Spanish holm oak trees, the bare trunks hardly taller than he was, but completely adequate to conceal his presence from a casual observer. He thought he saw something at a window of the house and lifted his field glasses for a better look, but it was nothing. Earlier he had used the field glasses to observe a body being carried out to a hearse, watched by the target and two women.

It was the first piece of excitement since he had been assigned to this training exercise. Straight out of camp he had been given this assignment for further practice in field craft. He had been told that the target was just a normal member of the public, unwittingly cooperating in the honing of Agent Fernández’s skills.


When they had arrived at the grand estate outside Trujillo, Fernández had driven three or four hundred metres past the entrance then pulled his car off the road and killed the lights. It was a fifteen year old Volkswagen Golf that looked like an old banger, but it was maintained to the highest standards and had a non-standard, high-performance engine at the front. It could follow most other cars. But, now that it was apparently abandoned by the side of the country road, it looked like just another dumped car that the owner did not want to have to pay to be scrapped. Anyone passing might tut disapprovingly at the disfigurement of the landscape, but would not give it another thought. They would be most unlikely to scan the small thicket of Spanish oak in the expectation of seeing the driver.

At ten o’clock, Fernández took out his customised mobile phone and called in to make his morning report. The phone automatically jumped into scramble mode as he pushed the quick dial button. He gave his report to his supervisor who told him to maintain surveillance and report again at two. That would be two hours after the normal end of this shift but he could understand that, with the sudden decamp from Madrid, it would take time to get his colleague to Trujillo without disturbing his much needed rest.

Cautiously, but quickly, he returned to his car to fetch a bottle of water, some chocolate and a small hand trowel. It would be hot before long and he would need the water and chocolate to sustain him. The trowel was in case he needed to improvise a field latrine. Then he returned to his observation point and settled down for an uncomfortable day.

* * *

The undertakers phoned Andrés’s mother to say that the funeral could take place the next day at eleven. She agreed the time. When she told Andrés he said, “I’ll need to pop into town to buy a dark suit and tie. I have one in Madrid but I don’t propose to drive back to fetch it.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” his mother replied. “Wear your father’s. You’re just about the same size. You don’t need to go and buy yourself another suit just because you didn’t think to bring yours.”

“Well, I think I’ll be more comfortable wearing my own suit.”

“Nonsense! Your father won’t need his any more, so you might as well have it.”

“Mother! I’m a very successful consulting architect. I have a long list of prestigious clients. I make a very comfortable living and I don’t need hand-me-downs from my father. So I’m going to buy a suit. I’m not going to attend his funeral looking like a tramp!”

His mother’s mouth narrowed creating wrinkles on her lips. “Well, go ahead if it makes you happy but I still think it’s a waste of money. I’m going to the Chapel of Rest soon to receive anyone who wants to come and pay their respects, but I’ll be back around six. Perhaps you’ll take over after your siesta?”

“Of course.” Andrés was well aware that some member of the family needed to be present at all times to talk to anyone who might visit.


The Trujillo grapevine sprang into action and soon everyone who needed to know had heard that Eduardo Castellón Fuentes was lying in the local Chapel of Rest for those who wished to pay their respects. Eduardo Castellón had been a prominent local figure, who had served on the local council for many years and had been the mayor for the ten years before he retired. Most businessmen in Trujillo knew him personally having had occasion during his period as mayor to pass some small token of their appreciation to him in recognition of an act of thoughtfulness or kindness – supporting a builder’s planning application that would otherwise have been rejected, waiving some troublesome local health regulation that would have caused disproportionate expense for a local restaurant or selling unused public land for development at a more than economical price. Such trivial tokens of appreciation would seldom have exceeded fifty thousand Euros. This was the way that the local economies of Spain had flourished for centuries and many Spaniards just could not understand why there was now such an outcry about these traditional methods of encouraging enterprise and why those who maintained these traditions were being hounded by the authorities and being flung into gaol on the pretext of ridiculous accusations of corruption. Well one thing was certain, this persecution would not now trouble Eduardo Castellón. Before the end of lunchtime fifty-four people had already visited Eduardo for the last time.


Andrés drove into town later that morning. He knew the way like the back of his hand and he didn’t need to pay attention to the roads, and did not notice an ancient looking VW Golf that would have been visible in his rear-view mirror. First, he drove into the Plaza Mayor in the town, where he saw the familiar statue of Francisco Pizarro riding atop his horse in full armour, warmly illuminated by the mid-morning sun. That great gentleman was forever frozen in time, ready to do battle with Peruvian natives. But like the fierce windmills that threatened Don Quixote, those natives never mounted an attack. Andrés parked – well double parked to be precise as there were no official parking spaces left – and went into a bar to have a beer. Double parking is seldom a problem, and he wasn’t going to be long anyway.

The barman offered his condolences, but not a free drink. Then Andrés went into Hermanos Gutiérrez, the only really decent tailors in Trujillo. Old Gutiérrez senior had, of course, heard the news and offered his sincere condolences to Andrés, but he was a shrewd businessman who knew a customer in a tight spot when he saw one. The price of dark suits suddenly rose twenty-five percent – the Castellón family had already profited more than enough from local businesses in his view. But Andrés was not bothered. The suit was very good quality and would have cost a lot more in Madrid.

He took the short-cut back home which entailed leaving the Plaza Mayor by a one way street the wrong way. It didn’t really matter. As the locals all observed, it only meant driving against the official flow for about twenty metres – well maybe more like fifty – and most locals agreed it should never have been made one way in the first place, so there was never any bother except if you encountered a tourist who was unaware of local custom. He was equally oblivious of the VW Golf behind him on the way back to the house. He was already thinking about the afternoon and his duty period in the Chapel of Rest. Would he know everyone? At least he would have a decent suit and tie. But first, having driven all night he needed to catch up on some sleep.


‘Finally did we meet with the main force – two hundred and fifty Conquistadors with a horde of four thousand natives to minister assistance and attend to our needs. We were camp’d in a green valley near the town they called Sumaco, high in the hills, but quickly had it turn’d to quagmire as eight and a half thousand feet and boots churn’d its sodden surface. Week upon week the rain persisted. We could not help but wonder, was this the Gods of the Incas dealing vengeance upon our Christian souls?

The waiting did drive us mad. Pizarro sent out small bands of scouts to research signs of gold or spice. All the while the rest of us had little to occupy us. For want of something to break our boredom we search’d the skies for signs that the rain might end but we had no more luck in our quest than the bands of scouts. Marching through the rain had been more diverting than the inactivity that did now surround us and we had been never more zealous to be on the move.’

Marquez Manuscript, sheet 5


By two o’clock, the damp patches on Agent Fernández’s shirt had grown from his armpits halfway to his waist. His panic in the Plaza Mayor had not helped when he’d decided against following the target through a no entry sign and instead had had to improvise his own route out of the town. Fortunately as he’d reached the main road he’d seen the target’s vehicle just three hundred metres ahead. His shirtsleeves were sodden from repeatedly wiping sweat from his forehead. He had drunk two bottles of water and eaten all his chocolate. He was doing his best to watch the house but every now and then, as his head slumped forward, he would jolt awake and feel at the same time both foolish and thankful that nobody was watching him. When he called his supervisor he was pleased to hear that his relief, Agent Moreno, had positioned himself and had the target under surveillance. He was seriously worried that the target had driven the illegal route out of Trujillo because his VW Golf had been spotted and the target was trying to lose him. For that reason he did not include the incident in his report. He was instructed to check into a hotel in Trujillo and get some sleep.

Having first made sure that nobody was in the vicinity, Fernández returned to his car and drove off, further into the hills and away from the house and town. It wouldn’t do to manoeuvre the car within sight of the windows – that might draw attention to himself. When he was well out of sight, he found a space to turn round then drove back past the house towards the town. As he passed a spot about two hundred metres the other side of the entrance to the target’s house, he noticed a beat-up old Seat Ibiza had been abandoned by the side of the road. He would swear that it hadn’t been there earlier in the morning when he had been following the target. He thought to himself ironically how totally disgraceful it was the way people these days just dumped their cars in the country without any thought as to the damage it caused to the environment.

He didn’t bother looking in the fields for Moreno. He shouldn’t have been visible. And if by chance he could be seen, Fernández would feel duty-bound to report that fact, and that would mean a lot of anguish and paperwork for all concerned. Better to just drive on, find a hotel, get a refreshing cool shower and fall into bed. He would be back on duty at midnight. He worked twelve hours on, twelve hours off, except in exceptional circumstances, like that morning, when he had had to work until he could be relieved. It was just his bad luck that the target had fled the capital on his watch. Still, in compensation for his extra hours work he’d achieved some very useful practice in basic tailing techniques, both in the car and – that morning in Trujillo – on foot, and he felt he’d been lucky. In comparison, Moreno would have had a tedious drive from Madrid free of training opportunities. Like Andrés Castellón, Agent Fernández also liked to look on the bright side.

* * *

Later on, Andrés was in the garden with his mother. He was not quite sure what they were talking about. Then his father joined them.

“Father!” Andrés exclaimed. “I thought you were dead.”

“Well, yes!” his father replied. “You were meant to. I was pretending. It was just to punish you for keeping me waiting. You should have got here quicker when I summoned you.”

“I’m sorry.” Andrés had always found it paid to apologise to his father when he complained about his behaviour. “Why did you ask me to come?”

“What? Oh that. Yes, well, I think it’s about time to tell you the family secret, don’t you know.”

“Ah, I thought it might be that,” Andrés said.

“Yes, well, not here though. Not in front of your mother,” his father said. If looks could kill, his mother’s face just launched three cruise missiles. “Let’s walk over to the mausoleum,” his father suggested.


About me

I was born in 1947 and worked for over thirty years in the UK as a software engineer and consultant. I’ve lived in Spain for almost 12 years now and much of what I’ve learned about the country - things I like, things that infuriate me, things that just make me laugh for their ridiculousness – have found their way into The Marquez Enigma. As well as writing fiction, I enjoy playing jazz on my tenor saxophone, photography and walking our two dogs through the Spanish countryside.

Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Without doubt the hardest part was finding a way to write the manuscript extracts in a way that simulates a very old style of writing without it sounding like a poor imitation of Shakespeare.
Q. What books have influenced your life the most?
The Magus by Jown Fowles is the most inspirational book I've ever read and A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz a close second. Carl Hiassen was influential in proving to me that thrillers can be combined with humour.
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
Martin Freeman would make an excellent lead actor - he could provide that air of being intelligent while still perplexed by what is happening. Lead female is more difficult - a role for a young (so not well known) actress. If not for the age problem, Nicole Kidman.

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