When Luton becomes too small and dangerous for their needs, our heroes jump at the chance to relocate to a glamorous life in Marbella as part of an organised crime unit. Really, in the sun, what could possibly go wrong? Why did the infamous Fat Charlie go to such lengths to bring the quartet to Malaga? Will they love the sun, or end up craving the land they left behind?
Graham, Benny, Zippy and Gore had come a long way since the heady days of the nineties when they ruled the roost in the field of knock-off designer clothing in the Luton area. However, times change and following an undesirable power shift, the quartet have found themselves at the bottom of the ladder, forced to peddle whatever their new track-suited overlords demand of them. With nowhere to go except prison, they are surprisingly given the chance to start a new life as part of a major international crime organisation in Marbella.
Finding it hard to believe their luck, they bid farewell to Luton with one last dig at the town that made them.
Once ensconced in the Costa del Sol they take to their new glamorous lifestyle with ease, often wondering whether it is all too good to be true, until inevitably, they find out it is.
The cast of Costa del Trolls
Graham: Reluctantly the star of the show. Out of his depth quite frankly in criminal fraternities yet incapable of living a life on the right side of the law. He doesn’t get his hands dirty and tries to ensure the others don’t either.
He likes to think of himself as the brains behind the operation, meticulous planning being the key to ensuring healthy and profitable thievery. Constantly engaged in a power struggle with Benny for who is the most important, Graham got them into the fold by impressing former overlord Tony Matthews, Benny claiming his doing over of Kalvin had more bearing on events.
In Spain, he is seen with distrust by the more thug like elements of the organisation and questioned as to why Fat Charlie has seemed to make him untouchable. In the end, his romantic side will try to force him out onto the straight and narrow.
He feels that he is too good for the people he is forced to spend his time with. His mother is Galician but has spent all of her adult life in Luton. Troubled by the fact that his actions are the sole cause of the distress that dominates his life, and the realisation that he will never do anything to stop it, unless he wakes up in time.
Benny: Graham’s foil. Once best mates, now drifted apart. The heist that frees them from Luton was Benny’s work largely and he is unlikely to let them forget that ever. Ludicrously handsome with the gift of the gab, Benny has become a hideous misogynist incapable of entering into any type of meaningful relationship.
In Spain he becomes a liability and runs the gauntlet of the organisation. The least likeable of the quartet, he has no redeeming features nor any desire to develop any. As he falls further into the mire of gin and drugs in Marbella, he inevitably becomes shoddy and plans his own downfall.
Maybe it has something to do with being an ugly teenager and taking out all my frustrations from the period of Benny. Even his scant actions showing goodness are immediately ruined by his portrayal of own unquestioned, and unrivalled, brilliance.
Gore: It was important to make the muscle likeable. Gore is a bear who protects the others yet deep down is a sensitive soul. A music nerd par excellence, Gore often acts as the buffer between Graham and Benny.
My idea when drawing him was to make him seem obvious, I think he is the easiest of the four to visualise, and yet to introduce deeper elements to him as the book goes on. He seems to be left to the side to a bit in the opening exchanges, as if he does not want you to know too much about him too soon.
Zippy: They call him the Chemist. Most of the time you actually wonder is there any real point to him, other than the supply of narcotics. It does seem that most of their pilfering and tomfoolery would be just as successful, if not more so, without him.
In Marbella, there is a parting of the waves in the sense that those in the group who control their “leisure urges” manage to stay on the right side of the organisation. Zippy fails miserably in this aspect and snorts more than he sells. He also blabs, or they think he might. Him and Benny become liabilities.
Fat Charlie: The head of the organisation in Marbella. Basically modelled on Jesus Gil with a slice of Marbella / Gibraltar proto-expat or something. Portrayed as being physically hideous and lacking in areas of personal hygiene, despite being hugely wealthy.
Like Tony Matthews, he is seeing the power he exerts over his area threatened by the invasion of Russians and Ukrainians who he believes do not act in a wholly sporting manner.
Determined to keep the quartet in Marbella at all costs, he risks losing face within his organisation and beyond in the light of its antics. Fat Charlie has never known happiness and something inside him tells him that this might be his last chance.
Ruben Shuffle: The name is simply stolen from the Valencia player, Ruben Baraja, that tickled me, but I am easily pleased. Fat Charlie’s number 2 though in reality he runs the show. More affable and certainly sweeter smelling than Fat Charlie, Ruben was a promising Flamenco guitarist in his youth before he puts fingers in places other frets.
Minus one finger, he arrived in Marbella and struck gold with Fat Charlie. He sees the four for what they are, and immediately earmarks Benny and Zippy as dole fodder.
Tony Matthews: When the four were still youngsters, TM ruled the roost in Luton. An old style villain, respected in society who did things the right way. A long the lines of the Krays but without the odd stuff.
He maintained order through the idea that if he did not control things, people would be worse off. That worked well until Kalvin decided that he had enough and took power from the ageing doyen.
Once Matthews’ control was lost, Luton became a hotbed for all sorts of underhand criminality. Respect left the arena and no-one, especially our four, would be guaranteed safety again.
Kalvin: The scally who came out on top. Our boys consider themselves so vastly superior to this fool and his underlings that it sickens them. Yet, he controls them. Only the stupidity of his charges will allow for our heroes to finally leave behind Luton.
I fear Kalvin represents how we view “youths” once we become ladies and gentlemen of a certain age, quickly overlooking how loathsome we were at that time.
Julia: What is love, anyway? Julia holds the book together, but is hardly in it. Julia is why we are all here, and why we will do whatever is in our powers to be with her. Julia is our muse. Julia is our salvation.