Johnston, best known stateside for his violent tales of futuristic Edinburgh (Water of Death, 2001, etc.), hauls Athens investigator Alex Mavros out of mothballs and packs him off to a fraught movie project in a Cretan village where a lot more than film is being shot.
According to imperious director Luke Jannet and his assistant Alice Quincy, rising star Cara Parks won’t make a move without her own Greek-American assistant Maria Kondos. But Maria’s apparently made a move without Cara. Surveillance tapes nobody’s yet bothered to look at show her walking away from Heavenly Blue, the Chania hotel where the film crew is staying, shortly after receiving a call from the cell phone registered to Vasilios Dhrakakis, the corrupt mayor of nearby Kornaria, and vanishing. Would missing-persons specialist Alex (The Golden Silence, 2004, etc.) please leave his home and live-in lover, social worker Niki Glezou, right this minute and return with them to Chania, where they’re filming the World War II epic Freedom or Death? Despite his aversion to flying, Alex agrees, and in no time at all he’s surrounded by drug dealers, technical advisors who act as if the war never ended, intrigue going back two generations, hints that the father he never knew may be involved, and more. By the time Alex recovers Maria, her rescue seems only a footnote to a variety of crimes, from abduction to smuggling to murder.
More earnest action/adventure than mystery despite criminal misadventures in which absolutely everyone ends up implicated, and a stirring demonstration of how “Crete really did get to people, even within hours of their arrival.”