Action & Adventure
International Mystery & Crime
98,000 (8-10 hours reading)
Available online on the following stores
SIX HARD DAYS IN ANDALUSIA
The father that deserted his family. The prodigal daughter, fallen from grace. A hoard of devious, manipulating and violent characters. And an unfortunate British tourist who gets caught up in the middle of the whole bloody mess.
When an old-time British villain and his crew meet their end in a bloody shoot-out on the Costa del Sol, it’s of little concern to most. After all, gangsters get killed. It’s what happens in their line of work. Allegiances change. Men die. It’s the way of things.
However, when Mary Lawson a.k.a. ‘The Accountant’, a former MI6 agent turned independent contractor to the mob, is instructed by her shady bosses to investigate, things quickly get a lot more complicated.
Hardened by her years in British military intelligence and ruthlessly professional, the woman who is no stranger to death and suffering, sets out to find who is responsible. However, on the ‘Costa del Crime’ with its regular influx of millions of tourists, a history of political corruption, and a diverse and thriving criminal underworld, nothing is ever simple.
What would yo do if you stumbled across nine dead bodies, a big bag of money and a car-load of the finest Moroccan hashish?
Would you make a speedy exit or would you hang around to check it out? Would you call the police? Would you take the money and, if you took it, what would you do with it…and what would the consequences be?
I am a Brit who has been living in the South of Spain for several years. Lots of crazy things happen down here in this part of the world; corruption, violence, drug smuggling, money laundering, violent weather events and a vibrant sex-trade to name just a few. These incidents get reported in the media in a very matter-of-fact manner, and yet most local people appear to be completely oblivious or, perhaps, unperturbed by these happenings. I found this intriguing, and I set out to write a novel about it.
My first novel project commenced, in an entirely unintentional manner, when I was away from home on a business trip.
It was a cold autumn evening, and I was staying in a cheap, characterless hotel in a north European capital. I was lonely, bored, half-awake and a semi-fictional scene intruded upon my consciousness. I decided to write it down. On subsequent evenings, I started to extend and to embellish it, and within a few days, a first chapter had emerged. A month later and on another trip, I produced another rough draft of another chapter. The second seemed to me, at least at that point quite, to be unrelated to the first. As weeks passed and further words were committed to screen, I began to see a connection between these seemingly disparate fictional events.
My inspiration for the novel came from my regular reading of the several free newspapers that proliferate along the Costa del Sol such as SUR, The Olive Press, Reporting The News (RTN) and Euro Weekly. It struck me that, what in the UK we would likely consider significant news events, are widespread occurrences in ‘The Costa’. Furthermore, they tend to be covered in a very matter-of-fact style that makes one wonder if the subject was indeed a gruesome murder – as stated – or, in fact, simply a minor fracas. I have not been able to put my finger on why this is the case. Perhaps it is due to the process of translating from Spanish to English? Maybe it is simply because ‘a whole load of fucked up shit’ happens with such predictable regularity in Andalucía, that it negates the need for editorial emphasis or dramatic prose. Maybe the locals are so familiar with such happenings that it does not constitute noteworthy news for them.
‘Two members of an Irish cocaine smuggling gang were executed by point-blank gunshots to the head in Marbella Yesterday. Police are seeking the culprit, believed to be a Colombian hitman. In other news, Carrefour announced an exciting new offer on their summer swimwear range.’
OK, I (mostly) made that up; Carrefour did not make any such product announcement. This is, however, not at all unrepresentative of actual news here on the Costa del Sol. Most peoples’ daily life is rarely affected by crime, yet there exists here a huge smattering of soft and hard-drug production and distribution, prostitution, burglaries, animal cruelty, all manner of vehicle-related crimes, minor and major corruption that is committed by elected politicians, appointed civil servants and private business persons.
As a former colleague of mine would often say; “It is all grist for t’mill.”
Selected reader reviews (Amazon)
“Funny, tense, convincing and gripping. I absolutely loved it. On to the next one shortly. Superb thriller!!”
“Well this cantered along at a fair old pace with lots of turns and intertwining stories that left you wanting to know what happened next. All with a dose of black humour and a sweet ending.”
“The character detail is rich and believable, even for larger-than-life criminal element, so good is the writing. It was a tense ride, dark in places, comical and touching in others. I highly recommend it and am looking forward to the prequel, a Den of Snakes!”
“Enjoyable trip into the various aspects of the Costa del Sol, meeting some of its decidedly dubious characters. Had a few laughs at the predicaments in which Jack, the innocent tourist, finds himself. As a regular visitor to Spain and, having read this during Corona lockdown, I was filled with anticipation at the thought of sitting at a chiringuito sipping a cool drink and dipping into some tapas – hopefully a more reputable establishment that the one featured in the book! Looking forward to reading the next novel of Damian Vargas.”
“Featuring a wonderful cast of diverse characters and a solid storyline, Six hard days in Andalusia takes you on a big bus tour of Southern Spain but, be warned, this is more of an editor’s cut tour, where you see the sagging underbelly of this much maligned part of the world.”
“With a large nod to the criminal activity that takes place as a necessary part of day to day life as well as some absurd episodes that will, for many, bring back some of your worst holiday nightmares, the author manages to combine tales of ruthlessness with some preposterous shenanigans.”
“Many books are touted as an ideal holiday read. Few manage to achieve that whilst still being engaging, hard boiled and consistently entertaining.”
“I put down the Jack Reacher series to read this and I was not disappointed. Thoroughly enjoyable fast paced, thrilling, tragic and funny! It is very carefully and cleverly written, I wasn’t sure how all the characters and strands would come together but they did brilliantly. Loved it and can’t wait for the next one.”
“Brilliant read, especially if you holiday or live on the Costa Del sol. Shows a true understanding of the area and the dark side that may exist. Gripped from the first chapter. Great thriller.”
“Does exactly what it is meant to do, entertain! A real page turner and very well written first book. Fast paced, lots of action, credible characters, set in the corrupt and dark corners of southern Andalusia and not without a dash of humour!!”
“I saw this book advertised on Facebook and thought I’d give it a go. So glad I did! Thoroughly enjoyed it, plenty of action and intrigue, laughs at times and plenty of violent ends!”
“Find it hard to believe this is a debut novel, so looking forward to more from Mr Vargas. Highly recommended”
“I picked up this book as my plane took off and I didn’t put it down until I’d finished the last page. Genuinely thrilling ride from start to finish. Great characters and action. Now I have to wait for the next in the series!”
“Was recommended this by a friend so bought it then put it to one side. A few weeks later having just finished Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher novel I found myself casting around to keep the fast pace thriller action going….I flipped open Six Hard Days in Andalusia not knowing what to expect and was delighted that the pace didn’t miss a beat. Six Days is fast, furious and funny, the characters are flawed and so very human which makes the plot unpredictable and exciting. The Andalusian setting is well drawn by someone who clearly knows and loves the region. Vargas has a touch of the Hiassen and Brookmyre about his writing. Overall a tremendously fun read, I can’t wait for his next offering.”
“I took this excellent book on holiday to read and just couldn’t put it down. I loved the way the story built and was totally gripped. Damian writes expertly and made me laugh out loud (and squirm) at times. I will never look at the Costas in the same way again. Please write book number 2 Damian!”
“What a cracking story from debut novelist Damian Vargas. The book romps along and is full of intriguing characters. As a fellow ex-pat in Málaga, I hope I never run into real life versions of these villains next time I go west of Estepona. PS: I write this from an undisclosed location west of Estepona!”
“Fantastic 1st novel for Damien Vargas, can’t wait for the rest. Loved the setting, know it well, & loved the gritty plot. The joke was that I even read this while running. It was that good. Recommend this book immensely :)”
“Ha ha, this was like reading an over 18 Marvel Comic, I loved it! The plot was ridiculous but so much fun and the diverse characters were strange but interesting. I look forward to reading more books by this author !”
“Six Hard Days in Andalusia surprised me immensely. It’s incredibly well plotted and quite extraordinary for a 1st book. Fans of Carl Hiaasen will find a lot to love here. Yes there’s a couple of well known character tropes, but overall the characterisation seemed authentic and interesting, as did descriptions of life on the Costas. Violent yet amusing, exciting with a warm heart. Thought provoking too, and as close to unputdownable as real life allows. Perfect holiday reading that goes down just as well at home in the cold and wet UK! Enjoyed this more than I thought I would! I shall keep an eye out for future offerings from an interesting new author with obvious talent.”
“This book took me about 3 days to read on and off and was a thoroughly good read. Someone said it’s a bit like a Dan brown book, but it isn’t imo. It’s a bit more like a Tarantino film with plenty of action/violence and larger than life characters. What’s really impressive is how the author has managed to get so many back stories and sub plots woven into the story without it being overly complicated to follow. There are several plot lines running through which all are very nicely tidied up in the last few chapters. Really enjoyed it and look forward to reading more.”
“Pacy thriller from an author who clearly has some insight into the subject matter. Generally not a big fan of true crime thrillers but this one drew me in after the first few pages – and after that it was hard to put down. Much more riveting and original than a lot of action drama novels – people like Patterson can crack out the formulaic novels but takes a lot more skill and insight to produce a book with intense suspense, attention to detail and random bouts of (often dark) comedy – all present here in abundance. Recommended!”
“Great characters, compelling plot and well written. Hard to believe it’s a first novel – as good and better than I’ve read from more established authors.”
“A great fast moving story, plenty of action subjecting the reader to twist after twist. The characters are dynamic and rich. As I live in Andalusia I love the setting and relish the personal touch, entirely relatable. Brilliant book for the Beach. Dramatic and left me thirsty for more. Recommend, recommend, recommend.”
“Lots of interesting (evil, messed-up, pitiful, funny, quirky, mysterious, devious, greedy) characters; multi layered, multi-faceted storylines all converging, clashing, crashing…. A great ride!”
“An excellent debut. A fast paced adventure with well fleshed out characters. One part Guy Richie British gangster movie and one part Tom Sharpe farce. The action is believable and the mounting misfortunes of Jack create a cumulative frustration in the way Tom Sharpe’s “Wilt” did a generation ago. I think we can expect a movie from this – but let’s hope Tom Cruise is not involved.”