Two Greek private eyes fit some sleuthing around their dining and socializing in this relaxed, convivial mystery.
When the strangled body of a young punk is found sprawled beneath the spray-painted slogan “FOAK YOU” at a shuttered archaeology museum, the murder becomes an emblem of community decay in the once glorious, now decrepit town of Sparta. Or so it seems to Geró Peerooney and his nephew Pidalios, private eyes called in to consult on the crime. They associate spray paint with the hooliganism of communists and anarchists and with the broader deficit of public-spiritedness in Greek society. They also have to contend with Greece’s slothful, all-encumbering bureaucracy, epitomized by the police captain in charge of the case—a depressed, inept man who never follows up on leads. But even as they deplore Hellenic fecklessness, Geró and Pidalios enjoy its consolations. While they sniff up likely suspects—a glum clerk who hates the graffiti artists who deface his kiosk, two choleric paint-store owners who hate everyone—they are never so pressed for time that they can’t knock off for leisurely lunches. And there are lavish restaurant dinners and family feasts, long conversations over coffee, cocktail parties, weekends at the beach or on a yacht with friends. During these interludes, which take up much of the book, the detectives and the narrative unwind and forget about the case. Instead, they are captivated by Geró’s feisty American-born wife Irini, whose run-ins with everything from a cockroach to a flasher provide an endless supply of amusing anecdotes. Fortunately, there’s little reason for the heroes to work up a sweat, since a perfunctory minimum of legwork, supported by the crime lab—a rare bastion of competence and punctiliousness—and random tips from colleagues, suffices to generate breaks in the case. Soumakis doesn’t give readers much suspense, but she does serve up sumptuous meals, contented banter and Greek-style dolce vita.
A poky but genial and atmospheric whodunit.