Flip Flop Flamenco follows the story of a man who chases his past to a drowsy Spanish fishing village.
Danny's search for the truth ends in a raucous gun battle between thirty ships, while the majority of the pueblo remains positioned on the beach, defending an ancient tradition. In the fray, a bunch of dysfunctional expats fight to keep their dreams of living in the sun alive.
This enigmatic novel oozes glimpses of no-bull-truth, revealing the naked underbelly of being an expat living on the Costa Blanca. This raw novel stirs up a paella of murderous gangsters, eccentric Indian bar owners, a sociopathic hotel owner and a quirky xenophobic cop. The brutal murder of a young English woman - turned prostitute, forbidden love, a donkey named Pedro, and out of work sixty-something-gossipmongers ensconced in the local bar - paint a colourful, ragtag, group of characters. If you're not cringing, you're laughing and wondering, what the hell next?
When I moved to Spain twelve years ago, I imagined the expats would be affluent go-getters searching for something new and strange. I pictured intellectuals working on books about their exotic travels and painting watercolour scenes of beach barbeques, backlit by the blue Mediterranean. All while discussing this evening’s meeting at the amateur dramatic society over chilled sangria and various tapas.
Instead I was faced with desperate people chasing after the same crumbs, associating with English people they would normally avoid back in the UK. I never thought I would meet Romanian gangsters, British smugglers, property scammers, drug dealers, slave traded prostitutes and murderers. However, they all sat in my local bar wearing cheap flip flops and sawn off clothes. All of them blended in with the latest holiday makers. But this isn’t my story; this is Danny's.
I first saw Danny running through the car park of our neighbourhood adjacent to the beach. He was flamboyantly dressed as El Zorro and chasing a breast-heavy woman in her fab-fifties as she desperately clutched a freshly baked baguette and skilfully jogged in her fluffy flip flops.
Danny arrived on the Costa Blanca after sailing his Junk from Hong Kong. An incident on the voyage caused the suspension of his licence. His funds were dead, but his dream to use the ship as a day excursion for tourists was alive. Lacking money, he had no choice, but to take a job as a shaming debt collector. This is an ancient Spanish practice in which the collector follows those who defaulted on a loan. He dressed up as a monk or a conquistador, sitting next to the debtors at their local bar, following them around the supermarket, and eventually knocking at their door in a loud animated show. This usually embarrasses the victim into paying his or her debt.
Danny’s challenges are increased when his prime ship mooring is taken over by thugs. To save his position, the deadline to launch his tour business is pushed up, giving him only three weeks and the start of the town's Moors and Christian's fiesta, called by the locals, Desembarco. The clock is ticking.
Danny is pursued by a disturbed femme fatale that he meets while collecting debts. They soon become friends, but after a short time he notices that she is a little off her axis. Danny doesn't realise how dangerous she is. At the same time, a local cop that keeps pulling him over whenever he sees him, is constantly giving Danny on the spot fines, depleting his funds and pushing him further toward desperate measures.
Danny is knocked off of his path when Charlotte barrels into his life, lancing him in the heart with her beauty and mischievous grin. When she laughs and declares herself skint, Danny decides that there is only one thing he can do. Pay off her debt and give her a job on his ship. Of course, this complicates everything from his job to his self-imposed ban on relationships. Unfortunately, to his dismay, Danny discovers that he is safe from her pursuit as she lives with another man.
Danny's friends keep pressuring him to borrow money so that he can hurry up and launch his business, but he simply refuses them. His resistance to borrowing money so that he can finally give people, whom he had promised work, has nothing to do with his debt collecting job. He has an agenda to find the person responsible for his mother’s suicide that sent him to live with an English Aunt at ten years old. When his mother could not afford to pay her own debts, she ended her life.
A long term friendship is compromised when Danny is treacherously asked to collect a bag of cash buried in a derelict country manor in Ireland. The ill-gotten gains of a brutal robbery would help Danny launch his business, but declines the job offer.
Two Indian beach bar owners wondering how they are going to pay the bills find a bail of marijuana washed up on shore. Before they get a chance to discuss what they are going to spend it on, they are converged upon by the local police- or so they think. They run and hide in Danny's van parked nearby.
If Danny hasn’t got enough to worry about, his friend Gene, desperate for employment, ends up playing Russian roulette with her body by working the streets. She starts dabbling in Danny's past and is viciously murdered after uncovering Danny's venomous boss's plans to become mayor and develop the town into another over-crowded holiday resort. The murderer isn't that obvious as others had reason to kill her.
Danny has no choice but to take the Indian bar owners on a journey to recover the money from Ireland. The stakes are raised when they find the derelict building is now rebuilt into what appears to be a fully functional monastery. Danny uses his skills along with the two Indian bar owners to dress up as traveling monks from Spain. They enter the building only to find themselves deep in the layer of some despicable criminals, using the building as a brothel and casino. They escape the bloody carnage with the cash, leaving behind a high body count and some angry Irishmen.
The race is on to get back to Spain and stop his boss from boarding his Junk before the start of the local Moors and Christian's fiesta. The whole town turns out on the beach to enact their version of Moors and Christian’s festival. When thirty ships disembark and attack the town, what they don't realise is that the hellacious gun battle at sea is real.
Even though Danny and Charlotte manage to survive the battle, Charlotte finds out that Danny has made a deal with the local Gypsies to get the money back that they had retrieved from Ireland. He must face a tormented bull, dressed as Zorro, to pay off a debt. Charlotte ties him up and faces death, a woman in love with the bravado of a matador, hell bent on making things equal between them. The on-lookers gasp as she leaps into action.