Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Literary Crime Novel "THE LONG SIESTA" Takes Place In Seville, Spain . . . .

Christal Cooper

Article With Excerpts
1,942 Words 
*Read more about Nick Sweet and his first crime novel Flowers At Midnight

*All excerpts from The Long Siesta are given copyright privilege by Nick Sweet and Gray Cells Press, the crime imprint of Holland House Publishing.

The Kinetic Experience in The Long Siesta

 “Everything has to fit; otherwise it doesn’t work. There’s no point in having some fantastically well-written scene that doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the material. The point is that it all has to flow. I want my readers to get a sense of movement, of the flow of the narrative, when they read my books. It should be a kinetic experience.”
Nick Sweet

The Long Siesta, Nick Sweet’s sixth novel, has been published by Grey Cells Press, the crime imprint of Holland House Publishing.


       The Long Siesta begins in July of 1998 where Father Pedro is found murdered in his apartment located on Calle Viriato in the heart of Seville, Spain.

The victim had been forced over the back of an armchair and tied.  There was a lot of dried blood, as well as some excrement, on the backs of his legs.  The legs themselves were white and spindly, practically hairless.  Thick green varicose veins snaked their way down the backs of the calves and thighs.  They were the legs of a very old man.  The handle of a kitchen knife protruded from between the flat, white buttocks.
Excerpt From Page 3

       Inspector Jefe Velasquez and his team are horrified: the sexy and intelligent Sara Perez; Agent Serrano; Official Merino; Medical Forensic and good friend Juan Gomez; and fashionable dresser Subinspector Jose Gajardo.
       When Gajardo saw the victim, his thick black brows rose and squirmed like caterpillars with money trouble, and the word ‘Joder’ escaped from the Subinspector’s lips in a quiet, involuntary lament that filled the room for an instant like a short prayer.  Then he noticed the dog-collar.  ‘We got an ID, Boss?’  The Inspector Jefe nodded and said, ‘Name’s Father Pedro Moro.  Served at Jesus del Gran Poder.’  It was over on the Plaza de San Lorenzo, just a stone’s throw from the Inspector Jefe’s flat, as it turned out, in the Old Quarter.
Excerpt From Page 5

       The sexually motivated murder of Father Pedro Moro only adds to Velasquez’s stress:  he is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder due to being kidnapped by the mysterious Bill and the Black Lady, in which he was given intravenous shots of heroin, forcing him to become a heroin addict.

       They’d marked him, changed him in ways that he hadn’t wanted to be changed.  It would come back to him at night, and he’d wake up in a cold sweat, remembering.  They’d had him tied to the chair, blindfolded.  The Black Lady giving him all this spiel about coming over from New Orleans.  Bullshit, all of it.  Velazquez doubted she was even ‘black’.  Like it was all a big laugh for them and he was the butt of the joke.  Then the guy who called himself Bill would put the needle in, and everything would start to be fun.  For a while anyway. . .
Isn’t my fault I’ve got a habit, he told himself.  I didn’t choose to get myself hooked.
Excerpt From Page 16

       The stress is compounded by the fact that he is trying to hide his drug habit from his superior Comisario Alonso and his ladylove, Pe Naranjo, a self-sufficient woman who happens to be a talented bullfighter.

He ran the cold water tap and washed his face at the sink, then checked on Pe again, just to make sure she was still asleep.
What she didn’t know couldn’t hurt her, he thought.
Excerpt From page 16   

Velazquez suffers an almost complete mental breakdown when he witnesses what he believes to be Pe being gored by a bull.  He follows the ambulance, looses the ambulance’s trail, only to end up at the hospital the ambulance driver told him they were taking her; only to discover that Pe had been kidnapped.

Velazquez went back out into the car park and climbed into the Alfa Romeo.  As he turned the key in the ignition, a huge tsunami of solid emotion racked his entire being, and he began to sob.
When he’d cried himself out, he dried his eyes with the backs of his hands and set off.  Minutes later, he was on the motorway heading for Seville.  He drove with his foot down all the way, his mind so full of what had happened to Pe that he was only dimly aware of what he was doing.  He was operating on automatic pilot, and it was probably a minor miracle that he managed to get back to Seville without having a crash, seeing how fast he was driving.  Then as soon as he got home, he found the bottle of Scotch and poured himself a large one.  Sat on the sofa taking sips from it, and going over what happened in his mind.
Velazquez sat there like that for some time, oscillating between rage and tearfulness.  He poured himself another large one.  Drank it quickly and refilled the glass, then paced the room endlessly, gulping down his Scotch.  Every so often he’d notice his glass was empty, and stop to give himself another refill.  Time had stopped.  Pe had been taken.  There was only one thought in his head:  how to get her back.
His mobile began to vibrate and slither over the sofa, like a sidewinder over the desert sand.  He snatched it up ‘Hola?’
A voice Velazquez didn’t recognize said, ‘We have your girlfriend, Inspector Jefe.’
Excerpt from Pages 114 and 115

       Soon another priest is murdered, followed by two men found nude in bed in Calle Vidrio. 

       Velazquez walked to the end of the hallway and entered one of the bedrooms.  Two bodies were lying on the bed.  Both naked.  Both male.
       Both very dead.
       There was blood all over the place:  over the sheets, the carpet, the walls.  The victims were both in their twenties.  One got it in the side of the head, the other in the chest.  The arm of one was draped over the chest of the other.
Excerpt From page 121 

Inspector Jefe believes the murders and the kidnapping of Pe are somehow related and there are a variety of suspects:  the Russian Mafia; Spanish Mafia boss Diego Blanco; a sexual predator on the loose; someone trying to frame Inspector Velasquez; Father Pedro Moro’s mysterious connection with the assassinated Spanish General Balmes; Anna Segura, Father Pedro Moro’s lover during the Spanish Civil War, who is also writing about their love affair; or is it Inspector Velasquez acting out during one of his drug binges?

       Velazquez told Luz Sub-inspector Gajardo was on his way over, then he left the building and drove home.  It was coming up to half-past five when he got back to the flat.  He was shaking all over, and he only just reached the bathroom in time to puke into the tub, but too late to avoid soiling his pants.  Disgusted with himself, he undressed, cleaned up and dumped his soiled clothes into the washing machine, then set it to wash before fetching the baggie from its hiding place.  He’d left a stock of needles there, too, and he took one, then went into the kitchen and heated the heroin, his heart beating with excitement now.  I’m dying for it, he thought, still more disgusted with himself.  But this was going to be the last time.  He would take it just this once, to help him through, so he could do what had to be done to get Pe back safe and sound, and then he’d never touch the stuff again.   
       He plunged the needle into the vein on the inside of his elbow, and groaned out of sheer pleasure and relief as a monster of a toro went charging through his veins . . .
Excerpt From Pages 166 and 167

Englishman Sweet fell in love with Spain for the first time over 27 years ago, and his love for Spain can be found throughout portions of The Long Siesta, some of which are quite poetic.

Seville is always beautiful – but at this hour, before the traffic of the day began, it was a poem awash with golden tranquillity and ancient mysticism:  the sun casting its net in the Guadalquivir, its reflection shimmering over the surface like the scales of a thousand mermaids; the medieval Torre do Oro, casting its own golden reflection on the river; on the other side stood the whitewashed Baroque plaza de toros, La Maestranza, the oldest bullring in the world, while away in the distance, dominating the skyline with its graceful presence, was the greatest architectural achievement of the Almohads, the minaret of the Giralda.  But Velazquez was in no mood to notice such things.  Seville might be a symphony for the senses for some, but it was wasted on him.  He agreed with Byron, though:  you couldn’t find better oranges or women anywhere.  Velazquez loved the sharp, fresh smell of the fruit that could envelope the city like a poetic aroma at times, conjuring up thoughts of love.
Excerpt From page 17

It took 18 months for Sweet to write The Long Siesta from his home office in Fuengirola, Spain, which he described in great detail in an email interview for this blog.

       “As I write this, I’ve got a fan (turned off) to the right of my laptop, and there’s an all-in-one printer/scanner/photocopier on the desk to my left. On the cream-painted wall above my desk is a painting after the style of the Valencian artist, Sorolla. 

A couple of feet from the left edge of my desk are bookshelves and, turning my head ninety degrees, I find myself looking out on the balcony. 

The striped awnings have been pulled about half way down, to provide a little respite from the fierce afternoon sun. I can see the branches of a palm tree dancing in the breeze.”

       There were a few things in The Long Siesta that took him by surprise, as most literary writers find with their stories.
“I was surprised by the way Inspector Velázquez’s character developed, along with that of his girlfriend, Pe Naranjo. Also by the way Velázquez’s heroin habit began to feel real to me, in the most curious of ways, because I’ve never taken heroin; yet it was as if I could imagine what it must be like as I wrote… I was also surprised by the way the history of the Spanish Civil War came to play a part in the story; it really seemed to dovetail in quite nicely in the end.”

Sweet found Paul Preston’s 1000-page biography on General Francisco Franco to be informative and useful when it came to the writing of The Long Siesta.

“Here of course I’m thinking of the death of General Balmes. The mystery that surrounds his death is a matter of historical fact, and it informs Anna’s manuscript, or the mini ‘book within a book’. Much of the rewriting, while I’m on this theme, seemed to involve paring down the Spanish Civil War scenes in the ‘book within a book’, so as to give the same information in far, far fewer words.”

Two hours later, Velazquez was sitting at his desk reading the unfinished manuscript.  Seemed a fairly run of the mill love story, only set in 1936, with the Civil War bubbling in the background:  boy Pedro meets girl Anna.  Pedro makes a play.  Anna cuts him off.  Pedro threatens to go and do something desperate . . . ‘I swear, if I can’t have you, then I’ll assassinate somebody, or run away and become a priest.’
Excerpt From Page 56.

       Click on the link below to order The Long Siesta

Photograph Description And Copyright Information

Photo 1
Jacket cover of The Long Siesta

Photo 2.
Nick Sweet in Spain.
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet.

Photo 3
Web logo for grey cell press
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 4
Web logo for Holland House Publishing
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 5
The Giralda and The Cathedral of Seville
Attributed to Alfonso Aguso Garcia
CCASA3.0 Spain

Photo 6
A Good Drink
Painting in 1897
Attributed to Eduard von Grutzner
Public Domain

Photo 7

Photo 8
A procession at Jesus del Gran Poder
Public Domain

Photo 9
Converting heroin tar into “Monkey Water” for administration through the nasal cavities, rectum, and veins
Public Domain

Photo 10
Modified syringe for suppository administration
Public Domain

Photo 11
Conchita Cintron, real life woman bullfighter
Public Domain

Photo 12
The Slumbering Woman
Attributed to Johann Reiter
Public Domain

Photo 13
Emergency Ambulance in Madrid, Spain
Attributed to Stanislov Kozlaskiy

Photo 14
The Spanish Woman
Attributed to Gustave Courbet
Public Domain

Photo 15
Nick Sweet in the office of his home in Spain
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet.

Photo 16
Crime Scene at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment
Attributed to Zaid Haird in 2008
Public Domain

Photo 17
Figure with Meat
Attributed to Francis Bacon in 1954
*The figure is based on the Pope Innocent X portrait by Diego Velazquez; however, in the Bacon painting the Pope is shown as a gruesome figure and placed between the two
bisected halves of a cow.  The carcass hanging in the background is likely derived from Rembrandt’s Carcass of Beef in 1657.
Figure with Meat is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Public Domain

Photo 18
Nick Sweet in his office holding The Long Siesta.  He is with his pet dog
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet.

Photo 19
Guadalquivir River over the city of Seville
Attributed to Hanlock 20

Photo 20

Photo 21
Nick Sweet in his office.
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet

Photo 22
Platinum Print of Joaquin Sorolla
Attributed to Gertrude Kasebier in 1908
Public Domain

Photo 23
Nick Sweet with his bookshelves.
Copyright granted by Nick Sweet

Photo 24
Panoramic view of Elche, Spain, showing the palm trees within the city.
Attributed to Carlos Quesada
Public Domain

Photo  25

Photo 26a
Soft Constitution With Beans
Attributed to Salvador Dali in 1936
*This is one of two works most iconic of the Spanish Civil War.

Photo 26b
Attributed to Pablo Picasso in 1937
*This is one of the two works most iconic of the Spanish Civil War

Photo 27a
Paul Preston on a visit to University of La Rioja in Spain in 2008
GNU Free Documentation License

Photo 27b
Jacket cover of Franco by Paul Preston
Fair Use Under the Untied States Copyright Law

Photo 28
General Balmes
Public Domain

Photo 29

Jacket cover of The Long Siesta

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