Athe­nian Blues by POL KOUTSAKIS

By POL KOUTSAKIS BIT­TER LEMON PRESS OUT NOW

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - By AN­DRE PAINE

es­pite the pre­vail­ing fi­nan­cial cri­sis in Greece, busi­ness is good for Stratos Gazis. The Athe­nian hit man (he prefers the term “care­taker”) has a steady sup­ply of clients, al­though his lat­est job goes awry be­fore he can get near the tar­get: a lawyer who’s ap­par­ently been mis­treat­ing his wife, a fa­mous model. Soon af­ter she hires Stratos, her BMW is pep­pered with bul­lets at a cross­roads. But the vic­tim driv­ing the car turns out to be a dif­fer­ent wo­man with a strik­ing re­sem­blance to the glam­orous celebrity, who’s ap­par­ently gone into hid­ing.

While the av­er­age hit man might hold out for a less con­vo­luted case, Stratos has clearly got a thing for his client, de­spite a film noir ob­ses­sion that should ring alarm bells where femmes fa­tales are con­cerned.

Hired as­sas­sins in fic­tion tend to be mirth­less lon­ers. So it’s re­fresh­ing to find an ex­e­cu­tioner with a sense of hu­mour – Stratos de­bates points of gram­mar at mo­ments of peril – and a few trusted friends, in­clud­ing a de­tec­tive who turns a blind eye to Stratos’ con­tract killing. It’s a com­pelling, twisty start to this series, while the tren­chant asides on the Greek cri­sis put Athe­nian Blues firmly in the tra­di­tion of ur­ban crime with a po­lit­i­cal edge.

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