Reviewed by Craig Sisterson
When a young demonstrator is publicly singled out and assassinated by highly trained killers in the heart of protest-charged Athens, Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis is convinced the killing was meant not to take out a target, but as a message. A message from whom? To whom? And why?
While British and Scandinavian authors tend to dominate the conversation about European crime writing, there are some very fine authors operating in other continental locales. Crime-loving bibliophiles can easily take a literary Contiki tour, sampling tasty tales from France to Russia and all sorts of spots in between.
Greece is packed with tourist hotspots. Thanks to Wall Street lawyer turned crime scribe Jeffrey Siger, it's also home to a superb modern-day mystery series. SANTORINI CAESARS is the eighth adventure starring Chief Inspector Kaldis and his likable team of Greek cops, who delve into the darkest corners of a troubled nation that is rich in history.
Athens is a capital city beset by protests. Many Greeks are upset about the current state of their country, and their lives. When a young demonstrator is chased through the streets and coldly gunned down, public anger quickly turns against the police. The new government (which has roots in past protest movements) is keen to avoid the unpopularity of its predecessors, and Kaldis fears the police may be hung out to dry for political reasons. But who is really responsible, and why?
When the victim turns out to be the daughter of a Greek general, and the trail leads to a secretive meeting of military minds away from the tourist crowds on the island of Santorini, Kaldis and his team wonder just what is going on. Why is someone stoking discontent among the military? In a country with a tumultuous political history, how hard would it be to spark a military coup?
Siger weaves a fast-paced tale packed with intrigue - in plot, characters, and underlying issues. I particularly enjoy how the author highlights many members of Chief Inspector Kaldis's team, and the relationships between the 'extended family' of the cops and their friends and loved ones. Kaldis may be the leader, but the supporting characters all have nuance and layers too. There's a real humanity to the characters, and some great banter too - a realistic sense of team dynamics, adding zest to a very good crime tale. SANTORINI CAESARS brings modern-day Greece, and its varied challenges, to life. This is in an exciting, engaging crime thriller textured by real-life issues, such as the spiderwebs entangling big business, politics, and citizens. A fine crime novel from a fine writer.
Craig Sisterson writes features for leading publications in several countries. He has interviewed more than 150 crime writers, discussed crime writing at arts and literary festivals in Europe and Australasia, and on national radio, and is a judge of the Ned Kelly Awards and the Judging Convenor of the Ngaio Marsh Awards. You can follow him on Twitter: @craigsisterson