Tiny cups of coffee strong enough to pave potholes and glasses of cheap, terrible Greek red wine introduce a desultory private eye to life on Corfu.
It’s a cold, damp, penniless April in Bath when uninspired artist Chris Honeysett lands a windfall. As sole proprietor of Aqua Investigations, which he runs with his live-in gal pal, Annis, and her alternate boyfriend, Tim, Chris is asked by a major supermarket chain to locate missing employee Kyla Biggs. Would he mind leaving the awful weather to look for her in Corfu, where she was last spotted? A disreputable motor coach carries him off with his cat, Derringer, as stowaway. Many miles and several countries later, he winds up on a ferry to Corfu, where he picks up a tail while he’s on the way to reacquaint himself with his artist friend Morva, perhaps cadge lodgings from her and, oh yes, find Kyla. Morva has a few problems herself: a snake in the kitchen, a tortoise with a candle strapped to its shell setting fire everywhere, a car cantilevered down the hillside headed straight for her. There’s no sight of Kyla, though. Instead, Chris finds a bird-watcher and an armed guard wearing a vampire-printed T-shirt at the entrance to the Thalassa Organic Olive Oil Co-operative. His footsteps are dogged by a woman wearing gloves in the Mediterranean heat, someone else following her in turn. Annis and Tim arrive for a holiday, bringing more trouble and Ouzo hangovers. But eventually, all is straightened out, though you may never invest in expensive olive oil again.
Who wouldn’t want to spend a fortnight in Corfu with the droll Honeysett and his chums? Helton, who divides his writing time between two series, the noir (Four Below, 2012, etc.) and the wry (Rainstone Fall, 2008, etc.), is a great traveling companion.