Guest Post: The inspiration behind Stolen Lives by Matthew Pritchard

Stolen II

From 2nd May to 5th May – Kindle readers can enjoy Stolen Lives for free!

Here is the inspiration and history behind the novel itself:

Illegal Adoptions and Stolen Lives – Spain’s Secret Shame

Spain’s civil war casts a long shadow – it is still an occasional cause of argument in bars and at family gatherings – but as the years pass, its effect on Spanish society diminishes.

Except in one case. 

Television and newspaper reports continue to appear detailing the judicial exhumation of stillborn babies. What the police find in the coffins beggars belief: sometimes there is nothing; other times, there are bags of sand, or bones belonging to much older children; in one case, the remains of a dog were found inside a coffin.

And every time these coffins are opened, Spanish society is forced to confront a secret that is almost too terrible to contemplate: the theft of tens of thousands of children from their rightful parents and given away in illegal adoptions.

The practice began immediately after the war. The state and church ran hospitals, and doctors and nuns targeted families stigmatised as being “Reds” or the poorly educated. Their modus operandi was very simple: upon birth, the child would immediately be whisked to a separate room. A doctor or nurse would then go straight back to the mother, inform her that her child had died, and that the state would pay for the burial. 

In some clinics and hospitals, they even went as far as to have a dead baby’s body frozen, which could then be presented to parents as “proof” of the child’s death. Nuns even took photos of mother’s holding their supposedly dead babies, to allay the suspicions of other family members, and then the mothers were hoofed out onto the street. One mother describes being discharged within an hour of giving birth, ‘numb from grief and with my thighs still wet with blood’.

The real babies were then given away to families close to the regime, or sold to those who could afford to pay for them. And meanwhile, empty coffins were being buried all over Spain. 

Doctors, priests, nuns, and orphanages were all complicit in this and could act with total impunity: with the Franco dictatorship having a firm hold on Spanish society, no one ever dared questions – but because of this overconfidence, the paperwork relating to the illegal adoptions was extremely sloppy and left paper trails all over the place. One clinic had listed 37 stillbirths due to “earache” in a two year period, all signed by the same doctor. 

Once democracy returned to Spain, people began to ask questions, but it was not until the onset of widespread internet access that the scale of the problem became apparent. People who had assumed their case was an isolated one, suddenly realised there were dozens of others; and those dozens became hundreds; and then thousands; and then tens of thousands. 

It is now estimated that the problem could even run into hundreds of thousands of cases between 1939 and 1987 – the practice was so ingrained in Spanish society that it continued for 12 years after Franco’s death in 1975.

And so, the heartache continues as mothers seek children, siblings seek brothers and sisters, and men and women seek parents. And every time those coffins are dragged from the ground, a little part of Spain’s soul is dragged with them.

Matthew Pritchard’s new crime thriller, Stolen Lives, is based on the scandal of the illegal adoptions and is published by Endeavour Press.

Stolen Lives

Stolen Lives by Matthew Pritchard

The synopsis:

Almería, Spain. A missing girl is found in a landfill, dead…

The right-wing press has an obvious spin: a drug user with prior convictions and a history of running off pays for the hazards of her lifestyle.

Journalist Danny Sanchez doesn’t buy it. Teresa del Hoyo had been clean for over a year.

More importantly, she’d been looking into murky events dating back to the Spanish Civil War, and of her two partners in crime, one is missing and the other is dead.

A simple article about the murder of a young woman for the tabloids leads Danny to the morbid, heart-breaking stories of the niños robados por el franquismo, children reported dead to their Republican parents to be given to “approved” families during Franco’s reign.

Danny knows he’s struck something big as he tries to connect Teresa’s political activism and the Church’s interest in the case with her research into the history of Almería.

With every step bringing him closer to the truth, it becomes clearer that these 50-year-old secrets still hang over the town… and that someone would kill to keep them.

Authors Links:
Twitter: @whynpritchard

Q&A with, author of Death Rains Down by Kevin McManus

Today I have a Q&A with author Kevin McManus, whose novel Death Rains Down is available free on Kindle, Yes that’s FREE on Kindle!
A damaged cop, a beautiful murder victim, a web of lies and a political cover up! What’s not to like?


Death Rains Down by Kevin McManus

The synopsis:

He is stationed in Superintendent Jim Mulcahy’s police department, having never quite got over the death of his wife 8 years earlier.

Logue is now a hard-drinking and damaged cop, a loose cannon, a thorn in Mulcahy’s side, apt to take the law into his own hands – but he always gets results.

So when faced with the murder of an attractive Polish girl in Port Ard, Co Mayo during the week before Halloween and the subsequent chain of killings that follow, Logue stubbornly refuses to let go even when his Super takes him off the case.

Why on earth, Logue asks himself at the outset, would anyone want to kill Anna Pawalowski, a beautiful estate agent while she was out on a viewing?

And why did the mutilated body of her Polish boyfriend then end up being washed up on the shore?

Was she cheating on him? Did his love rival take revenge? Or are there much darker forces at play?

But as the body count begins to rise, Logue slowly senses he has stumbled into a sticky web of lies, cover-ups and deceit stretching from his own department all the way to the top level of political power.

From the law-enforcers to the law-makers, from respectable businessmen to Russian mobsters – a sinister hand is exercising an iron grip across the whole social order and woe betide any who dare to try to weaken it in any way.

In a world of corruption and double talk the only person Logue can trust is his sidekick, Detective Jack McGarry who pulls him back on track to bring whoever is responsible for the carnage to justice one way or another.

Logue, though, feels he has nothing more to lose and is hell bent on pursuing a malevolent force to the bitter end.

After a tumultuous showdown he believes he has been successful.


Q) For the readers, can you talk us through your background and the synopsis of your  novel?

A) The story is set in Western Ireland in the fictional town of Port Ard. The year is 2007, the height of the Irish property boom. The town is awash with building workers from Eastern Europe. Corrupt politicians and business entrepreneurs are making a tidy sum from their endeavours. Against this backdrop a Polish woman working for a successful estate agent is murdered. Her boyfriend who is the chief suspect has disappeared. Enter Ray Logue a world weary detective and his sidekick Jack McGarry who unearth a sordid path of drug smuggling, murder and cover ups as they dig deeper into the investigation. 

Q) Can you talk us through the journey from idea to writing to publication?

A) The novel was inspired by some of those great crime movies and TV series of the early 70s such as the French Connection, The Sweeney and Get Carter. I especially wanted to capture the natural banter that goes on between detectives, to make them move believable, like Regan and Carter, Popeye Doyle and Buddy Russo.   The thing that sparked the story was just reading about an unsolved case in England in the 1980s concerning the murder of a female estate agent. She went out to meet a client for a viewing of a property and she was never seen again.

Q) What are your favourite authors and recommended reads?

A) I love all of Dennis Lehane’s books, Henning Mankell’s Wallender series, Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor books, James Elroy, John Connolly, Anthony J Quinn. At the moment I am reading The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins, its excellent.

Q) What were your childhood/teenage favourite reads?

A) I started off as a teenager reading mainly fantasy and science fiction. I was a big Star Wars nut and that got me into reading science fiction. I read lots of Frank Herbert, Michael Moorcock, Harry Harrison, Roger Zelazny, Robert E. Howard. As I got older I read move standard literary fiction and became drawn towards crime fiction. Q) What has been your favourite moment of being a published author?
I think the first time I seen the cover design for my first book, that made it feel so real and exciting, also getting feedback from family and friends about my books. It’s wonderful to get comments from people in Canada, the U.S., Denmark, Iceland, the U.K. and Ireland that have read and enjoyed the book, that’s what makes writing worthwhile. Its strange how writing is such a private task, just sitting at your computer in a room and then a few months later people thousands of miles away get to read it.

Q) Who has been your source of support/encouragement, throughout the writing process?

A) My wife, Mary has always been very encouraging and she convinced me to send off my first manuscript to publishers.

Amazon author’s page:

Author’s Facebook page:

Twitter: @bassbreeze

Death Rains Down is available as a free ebook from amazon from Tuesday 11th April 2017,  until Saturday 15th April 2017

*Credit for photo: Julie Williams.

*Thank you to Kevin McManus for taking part in this Q&A on my blog. I wish you much success with your book and future writing career! 🙂