cover image Baby Blue

Baby Blue

Pol Koutsakis, trans. from the Greek by Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife. Bitter Lemon, $14.95 trade paper (284p) ISBN 978-1-908524-91-1

The streets of Athens prove as mean as those of Raymond Chandler’s L.A. in Koutsakis’s brilliant second noir featuring Stratos Gazis (after 2017’s Athenian Blues). Angelino, a powerful and shadowy figure, asks Stratos—who considers himself a kind of caretaker, someone who “clears the world of filth and gets paid for it”—to look into the three-year-old unsolved murder of Themis Raptas. A former respected journalist who ended up living on the streets, Raptas was tortured before being shot 10 times. The m.o. matches that of the currently active killer the press has dubbed the Avenger, who has been targeting pedophiles identified by a popular reality TV show. Raptas had an adopted daughter, Emma, now 14, whom Angelino took in after her father’s death. Emma tells Stratos she wants revenge, not justice, a charge complicated by his learning of an apparent connection between Raptas and the Avenger. While the plotting matches James Ellroy’s best work, Koutsakis does a better job of making the twists flow organically from the characters. (July)