Saturday, 2 April 2011


The novelist, critic and editor, Ford Madox Ford once famously said, “Open a book to page ninety-nine, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you.”

Well, at the risk of public humiliation, but in the spirit of transparency and sharing, here is Page 99 of After Goya:

     ‘Asking you to interview the bank manager in Madrid was not a little errand.’ Cotelo tapped the table with an emphatic finger. ‘And the reports? Well, that’s just bullshit isn’t it? Didn’t think you’d be interested in the paperwork. Thought you wanted action. Thought you wanted to be out there, on the streets, tracking our man. And, as for belittling your suggestions, well, we’re here aren’t we? You said they were heading for Córdoba and here we are – in Córdoba.’
     He looked at Cotelo, trying to read his expression. He couldn’t tell whether he was being sincere or not. He hesitated, wavering on the edge of feeling chastened. He allowed him the benefit of his doubt and continued eating his soup.
     ‘For what it’s worth, I think you’re doing a good job.’ Cotelo wiped his chin with a napkin. ‘These surveillance jobs are never easy. They’re frustrating. You just want to get in there and get your man, or woman. S’only natural. We all want to do what we’re paid to do – catch crooks and lock ’em up. But, well, when there’s a bigger catch, and it means taking time, watching, waiting, laying a trap, then ...’ Cotelo shrugged, pushed his empty dish aside and poured himself a glass of red wine.
     ‘So, what do you think he’s up to?’ he asked.
     ‘As I’ve said before, that’s not our job. We watch, we observe, we allow our observations–’
     ‘Yes, I understand that, but you must be curious. You’re a detective!’
     ‘I have my ideas, of course, but–’
     ‘I don’t think the Boss would have sent you to just watch. Sooner or later he’s going to ask you to close in and close it down, whatever it is.’
     ‘Maybe. But maybe the Boss is just keeping me out of the way, sending me on a little errand.’
     ‘And, why would he do that?’
     ‘Stop me following up a case I’ve been working on.’
     The waiter arrived at the table with their second courses.
     ‘Which case?’

So, what do you think?

There are a couple of little niggly things in there that I'd change if writing it again. And, it's a bit dialogue heavy and light on speech tags, but ... I think it's fairly clear what's going on and who is talking to who. And, there's some intrigue:  "... close in and close it down, whatever it is." What is the it that is being referred to?
And, why would Cotelo's boss prevent him from following up a case he's been working on?
Well, you'll have to turn the page to find out. 

What do you think? All comments gratefully received.


  1. Regarding the situation with the Cajas (banks)in Spain, it seems relevant, that page 99 in these times of economical crunch is out there. I personally wouldn't want to follow up on either situation - the banks' or Cotello's...

  2. Hi Doina, thanks for that, and thanks for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. Regards.