Sunday, December 20, 2015
Review: DEVIL OF DELPHI
Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
A killer wanting the quiet life collides with a vicious European gangster, bootleg liquor, and Greek power and politics in this enthralling new instalment of the Chief Inspector Kaldis series.
In an ocean of police procedurals splashed across the globe, Jeffrey Siger thrusts his head above the waves not only with the sweltering Greek setting of his Andreas Kaldis series, but the verve of his writing.
I'd been meaning to read on of Siger's crime novels for a while, as I'd heard good things about his tales - "No Country for Old Men in a Mama Mia setting", etc. His acclaimed series bounces around from Greek mainland to Greek Islands, delving into the sordid side of contemporary life in a country with a rich and ancient history, and a much-troubled present.
I wasn't far into DEVIL OF DELPHI before I was kicking myself for delaying. The seventh book in Siger's series sees Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis and his Special Crimes Division investigating a surge in bomba (counterfeit liquor), which has veered from cheap and nasty to downright deadly. The stakes are raised when the lucrative black market industry brings together one of Greece's most powerful political families and a ruthless European gangster who's found a particularly sharp 'new sword', capable of doing a lot of damage. As bodies start to fall, Kaldis fears that this might be a power and politics minefield even his crack team can't navigate, while the pressure from above has a decidedly different - and puzzling - feel to it this time around.
In short, I really liked this book. It's always a joy to try a new-to-you author and have that choice rewarded not just by a good read, but the discovery of a talented storyteller and great characters that'll potentially be added to your favorites list for years to come. But just what was it that clicked for me with Siger's new tale?
THE DEVIL OF DELPHI was one of those books I liked in the early going, but grew to love more and more as it unfolded. I particularly enjoyed the banter among Kaldis and his colleagues. Siger has created a fascinating cast, and even though I wasn't aware of all the back stories I could pick up enough just by reading this instalment to be thoroughly intrigued by the characters and character relationships.
I felt there was a freshness to Siger's writing, without being overtly stylistic. The ways in which he brings contemporary Greece to life, populated by memorable people, and infused with some social and political commentary (again, not too overt, but blended in nicely), just created a real verve in his storytelling.
Like the continuing characters, the 'guest stars' in this particular instalment also came across as having a good level of depth and complexity. I particularly enjoyed the character of Kharon (the 'new sword' I mention above) and his motivations and interplay with the ruthless foreign crime boss. Siger does a great job crafting a real vitality in his stories, characters, and settings - injecting in enough twists or new takes to ensure that in a genre that can be a bit same-same even when enjoyable, he's created something quite distinctive.