Drumbeat - Madrid
Although a fugitive from twenty-six world governments, Axel Spade has minimal trouble crossing the border into Spain. Though briefly arrested, the guards let him go when they learn the identity of his future father-in-law: Colonel Santiago Sotomayor, whose name can open the lock of any Spanish dungeon. And so Spade and his best man, Washington PI Chester Drum, cross the frontier.
Sotomayor is not thrilled to see his daughter become the sixth Mrs. Spade, but he has given his begrudging consent. The wedding party comes off like any jet-set gathering, complete with one of the fiancée's ex-lovers making threats against Spade's life. But one key piece never arrives: the bride. She has been kidnapped, and to get her back, Drum and Spade will pit their wits against the toughest thugs and slipperiest bureaucrats that Fascist Spain has to offer.
'Very few writers of the tough private-eye story can tell it more accurately than Mr. Marlowe, or with such taut understatement of violence and sex.' - The New York Times Book Review.
'Drum sleuths to his own beat; he is a strong private investigator, who hooks the audience in each tale, short or long.' - Harriet Klausner Book Reviews.
'Marlowe's buoyant skill and credibility lie in the way he has put breath into [his] characters.' - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
'Langton's sparkling prose and inimitable wit offer a delectable feast for the discriminating reader.' - Publishers Weekly.
'Like Jane Austen and Barbara Pym, Langton is blessed with the comic spirit - a rare gift of genius to be cherished.' - St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Stephen Marlowe (1928-2008) was the author of more than fifty novels, including nearly two dozen featuring globe-trotting private eye Chester Drum. Born Milton Lesser, Marlowe was raised in Brooklyn and attended the College of William and Mary. After several years writing science fiction under his given name, he legally adopted his pen name, and began focusing on Chester Drum, the Washington-based detective who first appeared in The Second Longest Night (1955).
Although a private detective akin to Raymond Chandler's characters, Drum was distinguished by his jet-setting lifestyle, which carried him to various exotic locales from Mecca to South America. These espionage-tinged stories won Marlowe acclaim, and he produced more than one a year before ending the series in 1968. After spending the 1970s writing suspense novels like The Summit (1970) and The Cawthorn Journals (1975), Marlowe turned to scholarly historical fiction. He lived much of his life abroad, in Switzerland, Spain, and France, and died in Virginia in 2008.
Drumbeat - Madrid
The gate opened and a black and very angry two-year-old bull charged out into the plaza, skidded to a stop and looked around for something to hit with his horns. They weren't the horns he'd develop in two more years, but they were wide-spaced and already sharply pointed and could do plenty of damage.
"Diano Segundo," shouted the vaquero who had opened the toril gate. Even at the age of two years the bull Diano the Second had a formidable hump of muscle running from neck to shoulders, and the black tail shot straight out behind him as he spotted something to attack and lunged into a full gallop again. I began to appreciate the fact that I was seated on a bench behind the protective wooden barrera .
What Diano Segundo had spotted, as he was supposed to, was a group of four horsemen across the plaza, directly under where I was sitting with Axel Spade. One of the horsemen broke away from the others, trotted toward the bull and then set his mount sideways to the line of charge.
"This should really be something to see," Axel Spade told me. "Old Sotomayor will do the pic-ing himself."
Captain General Santiago Sotomayor, ex-commander of the Guardia Civil and now a bull breeder, a fighting bull breeder, here in Navarre in the north of Spain, was wearing a picador's round-crowned and round-brimmed hat, a picador's embroidered jacket and a picador's buff-colored trousers, but no protective armor on his right leg. The horse was protected, though, by a thick mattress strapped to his body on the right side.
As Diano Segundo approached, moving very fast now, Sotomayor leaned out of the saddle, horse and horseman looming over the bull, and shot his vara home. It was a lance, eight feet long, and he drove it into the bull's back just behind the shoulders. Diano tossed his head, trying to reach the horse with those horns. But at two years he wasn't big enough yet, nor strong enough, not if the lance had been shot home just right, as it had. But nobody had told him that. He tried, the lance holding him off, and after a while they let the steers into the plaza, and they took him away.
" Toro ," called out Captain General Santiago Sotomayor, indicating that Diano Segundo had passed his test by charging bravely and not cringing under the bite of the lance. Had he said " carne " instead, Diano's career as a fighting bull would have ended before it began, and he would have been castrated, fattened on grain and sent to the slaughterhouse.
When the toril gate had shut behind Diano and the steers, Sotomayor dismounted. That is, two vaqueros helped him from the specially constructed saddle that had made it possible for him to keep his seat astride and settled him into a folding wheelchair which a third vaquero had brought. They rolled it up a ramp to where I was sitting with Axel Spade. Sotomayor was semi-paralyzed from the waist down. Thirty years ago, before the Civil War, he had been a brilliant horseman and a rejoneador -a bullfighter, usually a member of the nobility, who does his fighting on horseback. Now he had enormous chest and shoulder development and sat very straight but could walk only with the aid of canes or crutches. He was sixty years old and had the coldest, most arrogant blue eyes I had ever seen. They looked even colder and more arrogant when his chair had been rolled into the wide aisle next to Axel Spade.
"I thank you for coming to the testing," he said swiftly and formally in Spanish.
Spade answered in the same language, which I understood and spoke as well as he did. "It was a pleasure watching you work, maestro ," he said.
"That will be much toro , that one," Sotomayor replied, his eyes briefly going soft. "Could you tell?"
"The way he kept trying to get at the horse," Spade said.
"Yes, and with his lips clamped and no foolish snorting. They don