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Johnston, Paul - 'The Silver Stain'
Hardback: 256 pages (Dec. 2011) Publisher: Creme de la Crime ISBN: 1780290187

Alex Mavros is a private investigator based in Athens, Greece. His deceased father was Greek and his mother is Scottish, now living in Greece. His brother went missing some years ago under the Colonel's dictatorship. He is living with his girlfriend Andhroniki Glezou (Niki). Alex is approached by an American film director Luke Jannet and his assistant Alice Quincy. They are shooting a film on the German occupation of Crete during the Second World War - the Battle of Crete in 1941. The main star Cara Park's personal assistant Maria Kondos has gone missing and the star refuses to work until she is found.

Alex is taken to the island and is based at the Heavenly Blue Resort, a hotel complex owned by Rudi Kersten, a German who took part in the Crete battle. He soon realises that feelings are running high, particularly about the Occupation even after all these years. Kersten, who has tried with his money to buy repatriation on the island, has a detractor in an ex-British Army Officer who also took part in the battle. There are a group of neo-Nazis causing trouble and one of their number is Kersten's grandson. There is also an area of the island that is unwelcoming and mysterious and off-limits to Alex. Luckily he befriends the TsiFakis family who provide the limousines for the film crew, in particular the son Mikis who shows him areas of Crete off-limits to an Athenian. Can Alex find the missing woman and can he resolve the many mysteries that are coming to light? He's not helped by the local corrupt police. He also has a jealous girlfriend back home, who doesn't like him being too close to the American sex symbol.

This is the fourth book in this Greek series. The author lives part of the time in Greece so his descriptions of the way of life and scenery are authentic. Apparently this novel has remained in manuscript form for seven years, so in his decision to publish it he has set it in 2003 a year after the previous book. My first instincts when reading was the writing was very one dimensional, possibly because of the delay? However it soon recovered once the action moved to Crete.

The author has two other series - one set in a futuristic Edinburgh and the other, the contemporary Matt Wells series, but I believe the Alex Mavros series is the author's best. He has already started on the fifth book - will the present Euro financial crisis figure prominently?

I enjoyed THE SILVER STAIN and would recommend it as a good read.

Geoff Jones, England
January 2012

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 15/01/2012 10:02