PUBLISHERS OF LITERARY FICTION SINCE 1983
Cover design: Marie Lane
This book has all the ingredients of hard-boiled classic crime: the mean streets, poverty and corruption and an upright private eye challenging the iniquities of a broken society.
Except that this is not the California of the Thirties, but modern-day Greece.
Reduced to pushing leaflets through letterboxes to drum up business for his detective agency, George Zafiris reluctantly takes on a family-connected job to recover a stolen necklace.
But other problems close to home soon crowd in to threaten his marriage.
Were this not enough to occupy him, a senior policeman hires him to track down the files of a murdered lawyer, while seeking those responsible for the death of an illegal immigrant.
It all adds up to a fast-moving thriller played out against a backdrop of political bedlam — an exciting, provocative read.
In Kanaris’s appealing third novel featuring Greek PI George Zafiris (after 2017’s Blood & Gold), George agrees to help Olli Papaspirou, to whom he’s related by marriage, recover a valuable diamond necklace, a gift from Olli’s boyfriend, stolen from her parents’ home. George is quickly able to identify the burglars responsible: the Flying Zamirs, Albanians who were once circus acrobats, and begins negotiating for the necklace’s return directly with Flamur Zamir. The deal hits a snag, but the relationship with the thieves that the gumshoe establishes proves valuable in connection with a more serious case. Lawyer Pavlos Lazaridis, a friend of George’s contact on the force, Colonel Sotiriou, who’s head of the Athens Police Violent Crimes Unit, has been gunned down in his office. The colonel suspects a cover-up is in the works after the justice minister sealed off the crime scene on a bogus pretext, preventing a genuine investigation, and wants the Zamirs to break in and look for compromising documents. George is a winning lead, well-served by an intelligent plot. Kanaris nicely mixes humor and mystery.
Leo Kanaris’ addictive Greece thrillers are guaranteed to take your mind off your own troubles by empathizing with someone else’s, namely, George Zafiris, the intrepid Athenian private eye who’ll keep you turning the pages well into the small hours. Those familiar with Codename Xenophon, the first of the George Zafiris tetralogy, will pounce on the second and third, Blood and Gold and Dangerous Days. In these two Kanaris definitely qualifies as a global- class thriller writer. Razor-wire dialogue carries you through the action at jet-ski speed, descriptions jolt us with rueful recognition, such as the Greek ‘potholes that multiply as fast as the government’s debts.’ Or ‘the pavements of Athens, with their ever-changing sea of obstacles, weirdos, beggars, lunatics, badly parked cars and rubbish bins, the shops intriguing or preposterous… all animated by that restless, chaotic Athenian energy that burns in the air and in the souls of citizens and drives them to extremes of brilliance and folly.’
The pages also mirror how foreigners see Greece and how long- suffering Zafiris sees Greece, which makes him at times wish he were a foreigner. The second and third novels fill out Zafiris’ complex character more. He is idealistic to a fault, with a tendency to depression, haunted by the prospect of personal bankruptcy in the Greek crisis and subject to withering criticism from a termagant wife who wishes he’d stayed in the comfortably corrupt establishment instead of playing Don Quixote and tilting at life-threatening windmills. To be a private eye and serve justice to the ungodly? In Greece, for Zeus’ sakes? All of which does not make for a calm life. But his dogged idealism – spiked with a steely resolve – is touching, and the reader cannot help but root for him at every unexpected and discouraging turn. Beach or balcony, these are two Kanaris potboilers no-one who lives in and knows Greece ought to miss. This summer will be a difficult one. Seek comfort in Leo Kanaris. Now.