And what Gage has done for Brazilian crime, Siger now does for Greece: He explores the intimacy of social communities, the pressures around wealth and power, and the chinks in the social fabric that give operating space to psychopaths and their buddies. Most importantly, he's crafted a character worth following: Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis, whose friendly management style is countered by the intensity with which he digs for criminals.
As ASSASSINS OF ATHENS opens, Andreas and his sidekick, officer Yianni Kouros, confront a corpse behind a really nasty nightclub -- the corpse of a young man, brutalized and tossed into the dumpster, then brought to police attention by an anonymous phone call. Clearly, the killer wants attention. But it's not the police attention that's critical here, but the putting the murder into the view of socially prominent and wealthy Athenians through the press and the grapevine. This isn't just a killing -- it's a message.
Meanwhile, Andreas is struggling with loneliness, susceptible to the attractions of the women crossing his path as he pursues the grim motives for the crime. A hooker, a socialite, each has a different way of penetrating his increasingly fragile defenses. And it's all confusing him, along with the stresses of what he ought to be doing:
Which was exactly why Andreas was yelling at himself in the shower. "Just how stupid are you? How could you think for a moment that a hooker could walk into his club with two gorillas, take over a table in the VIP section, and Giorgio wouldn't know exactly what was going on? What are you, Kaldis, a goddamned rookie?"Siger's plotting is tight and plausible, his twists deft, and his narrative delightfully seasoned by his portrayal of modern Greek society and the roots and motives of crime. And if occasionally the writing turns a bit bashful and awkward in the love scenes, that's understandable -- the author clearly knows the strong feelings that Andreas experiences, just hasn't quite nailed how to show them yet.
Andreas finished with a string of more expletives directed at himself and a decision to get the investigation back on track. Enough with this grand conspiracy bullshit. It was a distraction. The murder trail was getting cold. He wondered if that was intentional; the boy's death simply revenge for the Linardos girl's humiliation and Marios' performance a debt owed to the Linardos family repaid by an elegant ruse. Nothing was outside the realm of possibility. He turned off the shower. Back to rule number one: trust no one.
Siger's third book, Prey on Patmos, is scheduled for January 2011 from Poisoned Pen Press. It's a good time to collect this fresh work and appreciate the adept way that Siger is bringing this neglected geographic region into crime fiction. A lover of Greece and its people since the 1980s, Siger shares his passion for the land where he's chosen to retire and reinvent himself. It's a pleasure.
Reminder: Check in Saturday for a guest blog post from New Hampshire author Katherine Towler, as she explores the role of war in her fiction.