Monday, August 17, 2015

FOUR BOOKS FROM VACATION







Last week, I read four books. Here are quick summaries of the four--

I stand by what I wrote during my first reading of Jeffrey Siger’s Mykonos After Midnight.

The murder of a prominent Mykonian nightclub owner leads Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis to unearth seething corruption on the tourist island.

A prominent businessmen and his allies frame Kaldis, putting him in a situation like the one that caused his father to choose to commit suicide.

As always, Greece (and its different areas and islands) come off looking beautiful and corrupt.

The Andreas Kaldis books help me understand the recent meltdown in Greece. But more than that, Siger writes compelling stories I enjoy reading.

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Jeffrey Siger’s Sons of Sparta is Yiannis Kouros’ story.

Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis plays a supporting role, as do the other major characters (Maggie, Tassos, Kaldis’ wife Lila, and others).

Kouros returns to his home region, The Mani Peninsula in the southernmost part of Greece's Peloponnese. He listens to his uncle explain his plan to save their people. Then he returns later to investigate his uncle’s murder.

Kouros’ people (the Mani) are sons and daughters of Sparta, a fiercely loyal group willing to kill even family members who betray tradition. Kouros’s uncle had been trying to change that.

The question is: Was the murder family-oriented, was it caused by outsiders against the uncle’s plans for Mani, or did it happen for other reasons?

Sons of Sparta ends with a hair-raising attempt to rescue one of the major characters.

Again, I enjoy Jeffrey Siger’s books. They teach me about Greece and keep me reading.

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In Elly Griffiths' The Ghost Fields, a bulldozer uncovers a buried WWII airplane.

The body in the pilot’s seat could not have been the person flying the plan.

As things turn out, someone murdered the victim. He had a single bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. He is a member of the Blackstock family.

The Blackstocks have lived in their now rundown Norfolk castle for generations.

The pilot ran away to America, went into the armed services, and then ended up buried in the downed airplane in a recently sold part of the Blackstock estate.

How did that happen?

Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls in forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway to find out.

Readers of previous books know that Nelson is the father of Ruth’s child. They had an affair in an earlier book.

Nelson’s family story continues. Nelson’s wife is dissatisfied with her marriage, on the verge of seeking a divorce to marry another man.

The Ghost Fields are plots of land laid out to look like airfields. English and American forces built them to draw fire away from their real landing areas.

As the story continues, we have a strange visitor at the airman’s funeral, an eccentric Blackstock son who is a local pig farmer, and another murder. The pigs ate the second murdered man.

As in another Ruth Galloway story, a TV crew is in town to film Ruth’s work.

For me, the story of the airfields was the interesting part.

I liked the previous Ruth Galloway stories better than this one, but I enjoyed the mixture of history, archeology, and unusual characters.

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In Martin Walker’s Bruno, Chief of Police, novel The Children Return, Bruno fights terrorists.

Bruno investigates a terrorist assassination. Three assassins tortured, burned, and knifed the man to kill him.

Bruno receives word that Sami Belloumi, an “autistic savant” from Bruno’s village of St. Denis is trying to return home from Afghanistan. (The book continually reminds us that words like “autistic savant” are vague descriptions. Every person is unique. Sami, who barely speaks, is a genius at electronics.)

Terrorists attempt to kidnap Sami’s father. Bruno saves the man, but the terrorists leave Bruno injured.

Sami knows too much for the terrorists to let him stay alive. He remembers the times, places, and people who forced him to build bombs. The terrorists need to kill him and his family at the very least. The terrorists endanger the whole village of St. Denis.

Sami gives officials important information on how the terrorists communicate.

In two other threads, Bruno’s friend Dr. Fabiola is struggling with the psychological scars of rape. She is faced again with her attacker, now a prominent psychologist.

And a wealthy elderly Jewish woman is coming to St. Denis to set up a memorial to the people who hid her and her brother from the Germans during the Holocaust.

All this comes together in a crashingly brutal battle. The battle ends with Bruno’s new love interest (maybe), wounded and on the edge of death.

So, a lot happens in this book.

As usual, Bruno cooks wonderful meals, and we see much of the life of St. Denis, France.

I prefer the Bruno books that center more on the small town, but aside from that, Walker tells the story in The Children Return as well as always.

The Children Return is current, exciting, and well worth reading.

4 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Some nice reading!

Joe Barone said...

Patti, I try to take books I think I will enjoy reading.

George said...

I may have to track down these titles. I'm very interested in the Greece crisis so those books would get priority.

Joe Barone said...

George, These books take you all over Greece, and they do reflect the corruption of the government and sometimes the church.