In this auspicious series opener, the chief of police investigates a grisly discovery at a remote archaeological site on the Greek island of Chios.
As authentic as skordalia, as potent as ouzo, and as satisfying as briam, Serafim’s debut novel introduces Chief of Police Yiannis Patronas, who, in his more than 20 years as an officer, has never investigated a murder. This changes when Eleni Argentis’ body parts are found in a blood-filled trench at an archaeological dig site. Was the archaeologist murdered because she unearthed something of historical value? Soon after the discovery of her murder, her teenage assistant is found dead. A hidden cave holds more secrets and horrors for Patronas, as Papa Michalis, an elderly priest living at a nearby monastery, encourages his investigation. Amusingly, Michalis is a devoted fan of American police procedurals, like Law & Order and CSI. An unraveling marriage, inexperience, and an inexpert staff (whom the chief calls, among other things, the Keystone Cops) hamper Patronas. But as the growing list of suspects learns, he is not to be underestimated. “You assumed because I was from Chios, not London, I was second-rate, a backward peasant from a backwater town,” he tells one archaeologist—a little too on-the-nose but satisfying just the same. Whether it’s police procedural genre convention, the exotic island landscape, or the passionate Greek character, Serafim knows the lay of the land, and she confidently guides the reader. Armchair adventurers will get a solid grounding in Greece’s violent and tumultuous past. The quirky pairing of Patronas and Michalis has the makings of an unorthodox investigative team and the beginnings of a beautiful friendship.
This immersive escapist mystery should put Serafim on the map.