Nik Morton introduces my guest today – another fascinating individual.
In the middle of 2005, I received a communication from a Spanish man, Leon Cazador. He wrote in English and this is it.
Dear Mr Morton
Forgive me for approaching you like this, but I was intrigued by your book Pain Wears No Mask, which is purportedly a novel. Yet the first person narrative suggests otherwise. I thought you captured the voice of Sister Rose perfectly. I feel you could do the same for me, too.
Let me begin by saying that my allegiance is split because I’m half-English and half-Spanish. Mother had a whirlwind romance with a Spanish waiter but happily it didn’t end when the holiday was over. The waiter pursued her to England and they were married.
I was born in Spain and I have a married sister, Pilar, and an older brother, Juan, who is an officer in the Guardia Civil. You may wonder why I am contacting you. Well, I am a private investigator and sometimes I operate in disguise under several aliases, among them Carlos Ortiz Santos, my little tribute to the fabled fictional character, Simon Templar.
As a consequence of dealing with the authorities and criminals, I have observed in my two home countries the gradual deterioration of effective law enforcement and the disintegration of respect. My name translated into English is ‘Lion Hunter’. The Spanish sounds less pretentious, I think.
When I was growing up in England, I never imagined there would be no-go areas in those great cities, places where the shadow of light falls on streets and minds. At weekends, some sections of many towns seem to be under siege.
Now that I have returned to live in Spain, I find that it is not so bad here, though I must admits that there have been many changes over the last thirty years, most of them good, yet some to be deplored. It is heartening to see that family cohesion is still strong in most areas, but even that age-old stability is under threat. Yet, some urbanizaciones more resemble towns on the frontier of the Old West, where mayors can be bought, where lawlessness is endemic and civilised behaviour has barely a foothold. Even so, most nights you can walk the streets and feel safe here in Spain.
As Spain’s conscription didn’t cease until 2001, I decided to jump rather than be pushed and joined the Army, graduating as an Artillery Lieutenant. About a year later, I joined the Spanish Foreign Legion’s Special Operations Company (Bandera de operaciones especiales de la legión) and was trained in the United States at Fort Bragg, where I built up my knowledge about clandestine activities and weapons. Some months afterwards, I was recruited into the CESID (Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa), which later became the CNI (Centro Nacional de Inteligencia). Unlike most Western democracies, Spain runs a single intelligence organisation to handle both domestic and foreign risks.
I am one of those fortunate individuals capable of learning a foreign language with ease: I grew up bilingual, speaking English and Spanish, and soon learned Portuguese, French, German, Arabic, Chinese, and basic Japanese. Part of my intelligence gathering entailed my transfer to the Spanish Embassy in Washington, D.C. There, I met several useful contacts in the intelligence community, and at the close of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan I embarked on a number of secret missions to that blighted land with CIA operatives. By the time the Soviet withdrawal was a reality, I was transferred to the Spanish Embassy in Tokyo, liaising with both intelligence and police organisations. Secret work followed in China, the Gulf and Yugoslavia.
A year after witnessing the atrocity of the Twin Towers while stationed with the United Nations, I returned to civilian life and set up a private investigation firm. During periods of leave and while stationed in Spain, I established a useful network of contacts in law enforcement, notably the Guardia Civil. One of my early cases resulted in me becoming financially set for life, so now I conduct my crusade against villains of all shades, and in the process attempt to save the unwary from the clutches of conmen, rogues and crooks.
To begin with, I would like to relate to you several of my private eye cases, changing names as appropriate, of course. Perhaps at a later date I might be able to go into some detail about certain clandestine operations. Would you be interested in meeting me with a view to writing about these cases as fiction ‘in my own words’?
Sadly, Pain Wears No Mask is out of print now. Needless to say, I couldn’t miss the meeting. Señor Cazador is a remarkable individual and I have since transcribed 22 of his cases in the collection Spanish Eye. He also appears in the ‘Avenging Cat’ novels, Catalyst and Catacomb. He continues to supply me with information that I am gathering for additional short stories and at least one novel.
Nik Morton has been writing for over 50 years. He has sold over 120 short stories, even more articles, and had 21 books published in several genres. His latest publications are the second and third novels in the ‘Avenging Cat’ series, Catacomb and Cataclysm from Crooked Cat.
…These stories are humorous, insightful and sometimes tragic. Leon Cazador is not afraid to bring the bad men to justice, and so help to restore the balance in this world. Beautifully written with a simple and uncluttered style which draws you in to the heart of the story. Highly recommended!
– Laura Graham, actress, author of Down a Tuscan Alley
…While reading these exciting stories I experienced a myriad of emotions. I laughed, cried, and became incensed. I cheered and clapped, but most of all I felt a confirmation of universal values.
– E.B. Sullivan, author of Different Hearts