The streets of Athens prove as mean as those of Raymond Chandler’s L.A. in
Koutsakis’s brilliant second noir featuring Stratos Gazis...While the
plotting matches James Ellroy’s best work, Koutsakis does a better job of making the twists flow organically from the characters. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Like Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter Morgan and Andrew Vachss’ Burke, Athenian “problem solver” Stratos Gazis kills only those he feels deserve execution. An absorbing entry in this must-read hard-boiled series, which offers thoughtful characterization and a noir take on Athens’ postcrisis underbelly. BOOKLIST
Stratos Gazis hates being called a hit man. What he is, is a conscientious fixer. He fixes problems that few can fix. Things that people are willing to pay handsomely to get done provided he concludes the targets deserve their fate. The story centers around the blue-eyed orphan Emma, the “baby blue” of the title, a beautiful teenage girl with a talent for card tricks of exceptional sophistication – all the more impressive for her tender years and the blindness that has afflicted her since the age of eight. Emma and her adoptive father, a former investigative journalist, roam the streets of Athens together, earning enough to keep body and soul together by performing Chaplinesque sketches. When the ex-journalist is brutally murdered, Angelino, a well-connected Athenian underworld figure, takes the girl under his wing and retains the services of Stratos to find her father’s killers. Meanwhile, Costas Dragas, a top homicide cop and Gazis’s best friend, has taken on the investigation of a spate of murders of pedophiles, and as usual, has gone to war with the media. It slowly emerges that their cases intersect and that corporate interests, more powerful than they could ever have imagined, lie behind the murders they both need to solve. Through a combination of experience and the ability to read the ailing city, its residents and its streets with consummate skill, the case is solved, but not without some subliminal tutoring from a great classic of the cinema.