I’ll begin by telling you about waking up in my Marbella villa to find a dead girl in my bed; about being interrogated by the Spanish police – or hombres purporting to be the Spanish police; about learning that I’m going to have my kneecaps shattered by the former Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA.
That is, if he can find me before the godfather of the Andalucían Russian mafia hunts me down.
And not only that; it’s not yet ten o’clock and I’ve taken up smoking and have drunk half a bottle of brandy before I’ve even had breakfast.
Richie Malone is an old-school philanderer, misogynistic playboy and writer with an undeniable charm.
Although he has yet to pen anything to attract literary acclaim using his own name, he has made a fortune writing pornographic novels under a female pseudonym.
But now his troubles are just beginning. He needs answers, and he needs them fast. Just who is this dead girl? How did she get here? And why his bed?
And, of course, did he kill her?
Malone finds himself caught in the middle of a turf war between Irish racketeers, the Russian Mafia and a Columbian cartel.
And so, he loses the plot.
But can he get it back before he loses everything … including his life?
NINE MONTHS AGO
I leave the Moët Bar feeling mildly pleased with myself.
And why not?
I have a new nickname – ‘Belfast Boy’ – which carries a certain gravitas, swinging precariously between intrigue and decadence.
I can’t remember exactly who it was who called me this, but I didn’t sleep with her, which for me is quite unusual.
I’d been double-parking shitty Spanish beer with equally shitty cheap white wine for several hours and, truth be told, the prospect of sex somehow got shunted down the to-do list.
But I remember she had the deepest green eyes I could swim in without drowning, long, tanned legs that I would gladly die between and an accent that located her somewhere near Belgrade.
I know these things; don’t ask me why. There’s the intrigue bit coming out.
Anyway, the point is that despite the fact that I would gladly have swum up the Lagan to hand-wash her underwear, there were too many other attractive women in my backfield. To cop off with one would have diluted my chances of nailing the others at a future opportunity.
Tip number one: sometimes, amigo, it’s necessary to take a strategic ‘did not bat’ in the interest of the bigger picture.
Anyway, in addition to being a stunner, she had one of those quirky names that stubbornly wouldn’t stick in my mind. I’m pretty good at getting a bird’s name, but I’m struggling here.
I’m thinking maybe Agata? The first and last letters were definitely ‘A’s, so – I’m guessing – Agata would definitely be in the ballpark. Birds love it when you get their name right, when you admire it and show you’ve remembered, but don’t overuse it because that’s just tacky, like sending flowers after the first shag. Or even worse, getting flowers delivered to a bar you know she’ll be drinking in with her mates. That’s stalking, and it’s also tacky.
Okay, so this is how things finished up:
I insult the new waitress – who turns out to be the owner’s daughter – but repair the situation to the extent that I’m given a drink ‘on the house’.
I call a man with a small, bemused-looking dog a drug-dealing homosexual, and he also offers me a drink.
I tell the doorman – who intervened after I had insulted the waitress – that if he continues to look at me in the disdainful manner appropriate for the English tourist, he will have to surgically remove my glass from his anus.
Maybe a little of this is lost in translation, but he also bought me a drink.
And so, all in all, things could have turned out a whole lot worse.
So what is it about me?
You see, I can’t go anywhere where I have an audience and behave anything other than badly.
Especially when young, attractive women scaffold my ego. They accelerate this fucked-up mentality that pushes the ‘twat’ button in my psyche. It’s like a drug – I have attention, but I crave more.
My name is Richie Malone. Let me tell you a bit about myself; that is, if you don’t already know me.
I’m fifty-two years old.
I’m incredibly good-looking – think George Clooney-slash-Keanu Reeves. Despite thirty years of depravity, my physical decline has been slowed by a fixation for running and the gym which almost rivals my obsession with women, so I look much younger than my years.
I’m a writer and a sex addict.
Fuck, that was harder to say than I’d expected – I mean, the writer bit. I’ll tell you why in a moment.
I was married for an eternity and then I lived with a woman for almost ten years until last December, when she decided to become a lesbian and moved in with her lover.
So then I moved to Spain; not because I have a love of bullfighting and the peel of church bells, but because even a total, imbecilic fuckwit can pull beautiful women. Which is pretty much all I’ve been doing since I moved here; I can’t beat them off with the proverbial shitty stick.
Until, that is, something went terribly wrong: you’ll know what when you’ve read the next chapter.
But now you know me.
Remember the name: Richie Malone.
You’ve got to understand this. No one is what they appear to be. If they tell you that they are, then they’re lying.
And you’ll see exactly why I say this when you’ve read this sorry narrative.
For my money, all women are basically the same. The only ones I tend to remember are the truly dreadful ones. You know, the ones who bite you like some fucking Transylvanian freak or consider it’s witty to text that they don’t do anal on a first date.
And sometimes I get confused between my ex-wife and my X-any-number-of-women I’ve slept with because it all breaks down into that dreadful cauldron of white noise that is the catharsis of any relationship; and doubtless they think the same about me, but that’s not really the issue right now.
The issue right now is the dead girl lying next to me.
Just the bare facts would do for now, like who is she, how the fuck did she get here and, of course, what is she doing being dead?