cover image Athenian Blues

Athenian Blues

Pol Koutsakis, trans. from the Greek by the author. Bitter Lemon, $14.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-908524-76-8

Koutsakis makes his English-language debut with an intriguing crime novel, his first to star Stratos Gazis, a virtuous hit man who boasts of killing only people who deserve it. Glamorous supermodel Aliki Stylianou hires Stratos to kill her jealous husband, celebrity super-lawyer Vassilis Stathopoulos, before he can murder her. Aliki claims that during their three-year marriage Vassilis has regularly beaten her, sending her to the hospital twice with fractures. When Stratos finally meets Vassilis, the lawyer offers to employ Stratos to protect his deluded wife from an unknown killer. Aided by his three best friends, including homicide detective Costas Dragas, Stratos tries to cut through the tangle of lies and delusions, while people who should be on the periphery of the case start dying violently. American film noir shaped Stratos’s view of life, and Koutsakis effectively translates that half-lit, morally ambiguous milieu to seedy modern-day Athens. Noir fans will look forward to the next installment. (Apr.)