“That’s Mykonos--a mad fantasy. It’s not real. You might think it is when you’re here, but it’s not. But then again, it’s not completely the place of my dream. There I wandered about invisibly taking in only the energy I chose and returning safely and unharmed to my reality whenever I wanted. Be careful of this fantasy, Annika, for here there’s definite harm afoot.”
Murder in Mykonos by Jeffrey Siger is a great police procedural, excellent and chilling.
Annika, the final victim, is among the book’s most powerful characters.
Not long after corrupt superiors demote Mykonos Police Chief Andreas Kaldis from Athens to Mykonos, Kaldis faces what the book calls Greece’s “first serial killing.” (We learn later that Greece might be good at hiding serial killings.)
Someone entombed a bound young woman in the burial vault of a little-used family church. The Mykonos countryside is dotted with small Orthodox churches. Individual families built them to honor special saints. The churches include family burial vaults, mass places of entombment for many sets of bones.
Someone has been killing tall, blond young women from the Netherlands, binding them in a bizarre way, and entombing them in these small crypts. The killer buries the women alive and lets them smother.
If the story becomes public, the publicity will devastate Mykonos’ tourist trade.
This is a small tourist area. Everyone knows everyone else. There are “plantation owners” (a term ministers use for power brokers in churches), people who run Mykonos and who need to approve everything the police chief does.
Then the serial killer kidnaps another woman. There is a strict time frame to rescue her. The chase is frantic. It involves a host of failures.
Kaldis and Tassos Stamatos, an older investigator who acts as a father figure for Kaldis, fail again and again.
The story skillfully incorporates Mykonos’ geography, religion, enmeshed way of operating, and even, finally, Greek mythology. None of these things are add-ons. The author interweaves each one with the plot itself.
Finally, the closing is surprising. It ties into Kaldis’ history, his struggle to resolve early memories.
Murder in Mykonos uses several points of view. That is what makes it chilling. We see the young woman as she is seduced and brutalized. We watch her fight back as we also watch the authorities struggle to find her.
Sometimes the brutality of it was hard for me to read.
This book surprised me. I expected to be entertained, and I ended up with a special respect for the author and the way he plies his craft.