Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Inspector Costas Haritos is on medical leave after being shot, but when Jason Favieros a leading businessman commits suicide during a TV interview he begins to fret at his enforced rest, and the boredom. Then Stefanakos, a well known politician, also commits suicide in public. A fanatical right wing organization the Philip of Macedon National Greek Front claim responsibility, and Haritos along with the attractive young policewoman Koula begins an unofficial investigation of Favieros and Stefanakos and their business dealings.
Haritos is concerned that while he is on leave his position as Head of Homicide will be given to the incompetent Yanoutsos, mainly because his superior Ghikas is being overruled by those above him.
Their investigation will involve Olympic building projects, various dealing in the Balkans, exploitation of immigrants, corruption and complex Greek politics going back to the time of the Junta [1967-1974].

Author Petros Markaris was born in Istanbul in 1937 and now lives in Athens. Two other Inspector Haritos Mysteries have been translated into English from the Greek by David Connolly, The Late Night News [Deadline in Athens in the USA] and Zone Defence.

The best parts of this book are the descriptions of the home life of Haritos and his wife Adriani. Their marital squabbles are a pleasant interlude from the heat of Athens and the business and politics. Koula learns from Adriani how to cook during the time she is meant to be assisting Haritos, and Adriani regrets that her own daughter Katerina, a trainee lawyer, in a relationship with successful young doctor Fanis hasn't got a clue in the kitchen. It is all a charming contrast to the rest of the convoluted plot.

Where the book began to lose me was that there were a plethora of descriptions of traveling round Athens featuring long Greek street names.

'When I reached the junction at Vasileos Konstantinou Avenue, I wondered whether it would be better to turn left towards Syntagma Square or right towards Vasilissis Sofias Avenue and take Soutsou Street out into Alexandras Avenue.'

A portion of the book discusses the problem of immigration into Greece from the Balkans. The rather unwieldy term 'Russo-Pontian' is used frequently to describe one group. These people are ethnic Greeks who fled to Russia during the events at the end of the First World War that led to the destruction of Smyrna in 1922, and those who may have lived in the South East Black Sea region for generations. They speak either Russian, or a Pontic dialect of Greek incomprehensible to other Greeks. They are treated rather like the Epirots, who are regarded as ethnic Greeks when doing well, but become Albanians if they get into trouble with the police.

I tried the second floor and this time I found myself facing a Muslim woman, her head covered by a scarf, in that oven of a place. She didn't understand either what I was asking her. At the third attempt, I came across Bulgarian woman, who spoke a couple of words of Greek: 'Don't know.'
It was pointless to go on.

Che Committed Suicide is an interesting read, and Costas Haritos and Adriani are a lovable couple, but the book was rather long winded and would have benefited from much stricter editing.
This book was read as the first European part of Dorte's Global Challenge 2010.


Blogger Dorte H said...

I donĀ“t think I shall put this one on my list ;) It sounds quite confusing, but I know it is often like that when you read novels from a foreign culture where you almost have to make a list of characters to get through it.

8:33 AM  

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