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Sherez, Stav - 'The Black Monastery'
Paperback: 384 pages (May 2010) Publisher: Faber and Faber ISBN: 0571244831

Author Kitty Carson unhappily married and haunted by a miscarriage decides to revisit a Greek island, last visited in her student days - Palassos. Failed gallery owner Jason is an aspiring author who hopes that contact with Kitty can help him get published. He overhears that she is going to Palassos and goes there to try and get to know her.

Chief of Police on the island is Nikos Yannopoulis. He and his wife have recently returned from the mainland and are shortly to retire. There have been two murders within the last year. First a girl was found staked out on an altar, mutilated and her internal organs and face removed. Now a boy has similarly been mutilated. The problem for Nikos is that these events are similar to a case he had when he joined the police in the 1970s in which an American cult was blamed for killing and mutilating two young boys and staking them on an altar, but all members of the cult committed suicide.

Kitty is intrigued by the stories and the similarity and together with Jason they try and discover what is behind the murders. Palassos is portrayed as an old fashioned orthodox Greek island, which was once in the grip of the old Generals' regime. With fishing and the land failing the Islanders turned to tourism and this in turn brought heavy drinking, loud music, debauchery and an end to the old ways with the Catholic Church. The island made money but lost its soul.

The author, who is a new one to me, is a freelance journalist and music critic and this is his second novel. The book was fast paced and described the island life very well. I found it hard however to identify with the three main characters, but enjoyed the book nonetheless.

Geoff Jones, England
August 2010

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 16/09/2012 11:22