Next book in the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Mystery Series
From international bestselling author Jeffrey Siger comes another heart-stopping story of corruption and intrigue. The idyllic Greek island of Mykonos may be heaven on earth, but it's also the perfect cover for an international organized crime ring... and Chief Inspector Kaldis soon finds himself taking it on.
The case begins for Athens' Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis with a literal bang when a corrupt former police colonel who runs a protection racket on Mykonos is gunned down. Suddenly, Kaldis is face-to-face with Greece's top crime bosses on Mykonos, an island whose natural beauty and reputation as an international playground belies the corruption lurking just beneath the surface.
While Kaldis and his Special Crimes unit wrestle for answers, his wife, Lila, meets an American expat named Toni, a finder of stolen goods and a piano player in a gender-bending bar who has a zest for life and no apparent regard for rules. As Lila and Toni bond over a common desire to mentor young island girls trapped in an exploitative and patriarchal culture, they soon find that their efforts intersect with Kaldis' investigation in ways that prove to be dangerous for all involved...
Rife with intrigue and thrilling action, once again Jeffrey Siger proves himself a master of capturing Greece in fiction. In this newest addition to the acclaimed international mystery series, Chief Inspector Kaldis is forced to dive into an investigation that just might swallow him whole. Because when corruption lies deep beneath the surface, how can the truth come to light?
- The perfect blend of action and culture, this series is:
- Perfect for fans of Martin Walker and Timothy Hallinan
- For readers who enjoy international mysteries and political thrillers
(Previously published as The Mykonos Mob)
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About the Author
The New York Times described Jeffrey Siger's novels as "thoughtful police procedurals set in picturesque but not untroubled Greek locales," and named him as Greece's thriller writer of record. The Greek Press called his work "prophetic," Eurocrime described him as a "very gifted American author...on a par with other American authors such as Joseph Wambaugh or Ed McBain," and the City of San Francisco awarded him its Certificate of Honor citing that his "acclaimed books have not only explored modern Greek society and its ancient roots but have inspired political change in Greece." He now lives in Greece.
Read an Excerpt
He never wondered about the purpose of life or how he turned out as he had. It all just sort of happened. He became a cop because he saw it as the surest way for a kid born into Greece's working class in the tumultuous early 1960s to make a living. He got lucky when, after the fall of the Military Junta in 1974, he joined the youth movement of a left-wing political party that came to power in 1981 and remembered to reward its loyal friends.
As he rose in rank, the more friends and money he made, the more power he amassed. He kept careful track of where the bodies were buried and possessed an uncanny instinct for digging up the ones he needed to achieve his purposes. An effort by the opposition party to paint him as corrupt failed when the prosecution's main witness died in a boating accident. An investigation into the witness' death faded away soon after he announced his decision to retire from the Hellenic Police force with the rank of colonel.
That's when he began to make truly big money, capitalizing on his contacts and former position as head of police for the South Aegean Region, home to Greece's most popular tourist islands for the rich and hard-partying globetrotting crowd.
Tonight, the Colonel was far away from all that glitz and glamour. He sat in a restaurant in a nondescript, middle-class eastern suburb of Athens, virtually equidistant from downtown Athens, its port town of Rafina, and Venizelos International Airport.
"A convenient place for a meeting," said the one who'd arranged it.
The Colonel leaned back in his chair and yawned. The conversation had been as boring as the meal. Everything about the place was mediocre, from its tired, thirty-year-old decor to the hookers at the bar, and the ruddy-faced, pudgy man sitting across the table from him who had yet to say why their mutual business acquaintance thought they should meet.
"Am I keeping you awake, Colonel?"
Ruddy Face smiled. "How do you like my place?"
The Colonel leaned forward. It was long past time to get down to business. "If this is your joint, why don't you just tell me why you wanted to meet? You sure as hell don't need my services to run this operation."
"You're right, it's a dump." Ruddy Face paused. "But I have plans."
"What sort of plans?"
"I'm buying a club on the islands. It's going to be first-class in every way." He nodded toward the bar. "Including the girls."
"One you control."
"Control is a mighty big word."
Ruddy Face smiled. "Let's just say, I don't like the idea of getting involved in a business where my investment isn't secure."
"That's prudent of you."
"Can you help me?"
"If you're asking for security, the answer is yes."
"I'm talking about protection for all aspects of my business."
The Colonel shrugged. "It's all a matter of price. You tell me what you want, and I'll tell you what it will cost you."
"I hear you're pricey."
"You heard right. But I make sure things run smoothly."
"How do you do that?"
"I don't have competitors stirring things up, jockeying for business. I maintain order among the chaos."
"They might see things differently."
"If by they you mean competitors, there are no they on my island. I'm the only game in town."
"I get your point," said the man. "I'm sure we'll come to terms."
"If you want to open a club where I'm in business, I'm sure we will."
The Colonel declined an offer of coffee, and the two men agreed to talk again once Ruddy Face had a better idea of what he might need from the Colonel.
He walked the Colonel to the front door, shook his hand, thanked him for coming, and wished him safe travels. "Kalo taxidhi."
But the Colonel only made it as far as the front door of his Mercedes.
* * *
Greece's General Police Headquarters, better known as GADA, sat close by the heart of Athens' bustle, next door to a major hospital, down the block from Greece's Supreme Court, and across the street from the stadium of one of Greece's most popular soccer teams. GADA's Special Crimes Unit, charged with investigating potential corruption and other matters of national concern — at least those that piqued the interest of its Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis — occupied the eastern side of the fourth floor.
Andreas had been at his desk since shortly after sunrise. With two early-rising young children at home, it wasn't unusual for him to flee the morning domestic chaos for the relative calm of tracking down bad actors. His wife, Lila, never seemed to mind when he abandoned her to the ruckus, undoubtedly because she rightly considered him an active accessory to their children's early-morning mischief.
It wasn't as if he were leaving his wife alone to deal with their son and daughter; she did have a maid and nanny to help, a decidedly suspicious luxury on an honest cop's salary. But all of that, and more, had come with his marriage to the daughter of one of Greece's most respected and wealthiest families. He appreciated his good fortune and considered himself a lucky man.
Too bad he couldn't say the same thing for the guy plastered all over the morning news headlines: RETIRED POLICE COLONEL STAVROS AKTIPIS ASSASSINATED. That summed up virtually everything the various news stations had to report on the shooting, though they tried their best to spice up their coverage with references to corruption allegations that had haunted the victim.
All the allegations preceded Andreas' time as chief of Special Crimes, but he'd heard the stories and much more about the Colonel. Instinctively, Andreas believed the victim had been corrupt, for the system far too often brought temptations to one in his position. Yet, if Andreas pursued every case of official corruption brought to his attention, he'd need all the offices in the building to house his staff — not to mention an unimaginable number of additional prosecutors.
Compounding all of that, innovative criminal types from around the world kept introducing new schemes and methods into Greece that added to his caseload. Overwhelmed as his unit was, and Greece a decade into a crippling economic crisis, he knew he'd be wasting his time asking for more support from the government. That left Andreas with little choice but to pursue the most egregious offenders, hoping to make an example of them in a manner that discouraged others from doing the same.
What happened last night to the Colonel, he knew, would be headed straight for his desk, in a file marked NASTY in all-red letters. The Colonel had been murdered for a reason, and it wasn't robbery. His wallet, filled with euros, and an expensive watch were untouched. Three quick bullets to the back of his head as he stood at his car door. No witnesses, and no terrorists claiming credit for the killing. At least none so far.
Andreas held a remote in his right hand, surfing through local news coverage on the wall-mounted TV screen to his right, while drumming the fingers of his left hand on his desktop. He looked at his watch. Detective Yianni Kouros should be at the scene by now. Andreas had called him at home as soon as he'd heard the early morning news. Yianni had been his right-hand man since their days together on Mykonos, back when Andreas was the island's police chief and Yianni a brash young bull of a rookie cop.
Andreas bit at his lip. Killing cops, retired or not, wasn't something even the most hardened criminals undertook lightly, especially when the victim was an ex-colonel. He'd been assassinated for a serious reason, most likely with the blessing of serious people. That's why he'd sent Yianni to the scene. He wanted his own people in on the investigation from the start. Screw-ups early on — unintentional or otherwise — haunted investigations, at times serving as a convenient pretext for bad guys getting away with murder. Not this time, though. Not if Andreas could help it.
Yes, this definitely would be a nasty one.
* * *
Early-morning traffic heading east out of Athens wasn't nearly as bad as that going in the other direction, but it still was far from Detective Yianni Kouros' favorite way to start his day. He'd recently moved into an apartment in Kypseli, a staunchly working-class Athens neighborhood only a mile from his office at GADA, and his easy commute had spoiled him.
Athens' eastern suburbs were unfamiliar to Yianni, so he left it to his GPS to get him where he wanted to be. The town of Pallini lay in the central inland portion of the Attica Peninsula, a region known since antiquity as Mesogeia. Once filled with olive groves, fig trees, and grapevines, its fertile plains were now home to one town seemingly blending into the next. All Yianni knew about Pallini was that it lay along the Greek National Road on the way to Athens' port town of Rafina, from which he'd caught many a boat to the Cyclades Islands.
It took about a half-hour for him to cover the twelve miles from his home to the scene of the Colonel's murder, and when he arrived, a local blue-and-white police cruiser sat blocking the entrance to the restaurant's parking lot.
Yianni pulled onto the sidewalk just beyond the entrance and slowly walked toward the cruiser, taking care to pull his police ID out from under his shirt. No reason to make the two cops more nervous than they might already be, having spent all night at the scene of an ex-police colonel's murder by an unidentified assassin for reasons unknown.
"Yia sas," said Yianni to the driver through his open window. "I'm Detective Kouros. Special Crimes."
The driver and his partner got out of the car and shook hands with Yianni.
"So, what can you tell me?"
The driver gestured with his head at a late-model black Mercedes sedan parked facing the street ten meters to the right of where they stood, and directly across from the entrance to the restaurant. "That's the victim's car. He was killed at the driver- side front door."
"The body was removed once forensics finished up," said the partner. "The spent shell casings are in evidence bags where they were found." He pointed to three orange cones behind the Mercedes on its passenger side.
Yianni carefully walked toward the rear of the car, studying the ground as he did. He circled the car twice before returning to the cones. Two of the three nine-millimeter shell casings lay in close proximity to one another, indicating that the killer had fired from approximately the same location in relation to the victim, but the third lay several meters away from the other two, in the direction of the restaurant entrance. Yianni knelt to study the casings more closely and looked up at the cops.
"How did this go down?"
The driver answered. "The owner told us he'd said good night to the victim inside the restaurant, standing with him at the door leading out to the parking lot. The owner's back was to the door when he heard the shots. At first he thought it was a motorbike backfire, but after the third shot he turned around and saw the victim on the ground. He ran outside, but by then the shooter was gone."
Yianni looked down at the shell casings. "Do you know whether any vehicles entered or left the parking lot after the victim was shot?"
"The owner said he didn't let anyone leave the parking lot until the police arrived."
"And we were told not to let any vehicles budge until you gave the okay," added the partner. "A lot of aggravated customers went home in taxis."
Yianni nodded. "Thanks. What about vehicles that entered the parking lot after the shooting?"
The partner pointed to the left of the entrance. "They all parked over there, away from the scene."
"And before police arrived?"
"The owner said no one entered or left."
"Is there any other way in or out of the parking lot, besides this entrance?"
The driver answered no in the Greek style of a quick upward jerk of his head. "The perimeter's fenced in, except for a low wall along its border with the front street."
"We checked, and there's no sign of tire tracks anywhere along the front wall," added the partner. "But it would have been simple for anyone to get over the wall on foot."
Yianni stood. "So, no vehicles entered or left the area after the shooting, except for official vehicles, and they parked away from the scene?"
"Yes," said the two in unison.
"What about the ambulance that picked up the body?"
"The attendants used a stretcher," said the driver.
"And kept far away from the cones marking the shell casings," added the partner.
"I see that you get what I'm driving at."
The cops smiled.
Yianni pointed at the shell casing closest to the restaurant's front door. "That shell casing is directly between the front door and the rear of the victim's car. It's deformed at its open end. The others aren't."
"Perhaps the owner stepped on it when he ran to the victim?"
"Perhaps," said Yianni, "but why is it so far away from the other two? Where's the owner now?"
"He's inside," said the driver. "Taking a nap in his office."
"Something I'm sure you'd like to be doing after a night of babysitting the scene."
"At least it pays well," smirked a cop.
"Yeah," laughed his partner.
"Our universal cop lament," smiled Yianni. "I'm going to check in with the owner, and once I'm done, you two can collect the shell casings for forensics and take off." He headed in the direction of the front door, but before reaching it, a small, ruddy-face man opened the door and stepped outside.
"You must be from GADA. I own this place and was told to wait for you."
"I thought you were sleeping."
"Who can sleep with what just happened?"
Yianni extended his hand. "I'm Detective Yianni Kouros. I know you've been asked this before, but I need to hear everything you remember about the shooting."
The owner reached out and shook Yianni's hand. "Everyone calls me Pepe." He matter-of-factly repeated a story consistent with what Yianni had been told by the two cops.
"So, you saw no one?"
"On foot or in a vehicle?"
"And no vehicle entered or left the parking lot from the moment you heard the shots?"
"Do you have closed-circuit TV in your parking lot?"
"No. Though after this, I'm seriously considering the idea."
"Are you expecting more shootings?"
Pepe gave a twisted grin. "I sincerely hope not."
"What about inside, any CCTV there?"
"No, I think it's safe to say we're technologically challenged out here in the suburbs."
"Do you know where the victim lived?"
"Was he local?"
"If he wasn't local, why did he pick your restaurant to eat in?"
Pepe ran his tongue across his lower lip. "I asked him to meet me here."
"You knew him?"
"Then why the meeting?"
"He was recommended as someone who could help me with a new business I'm opening."
"Who made the recommendation?"
Pepe gave a name Yianni didn't recognize. He made a note of it in his pocket notebook.
"What sort of help were you looking for?"
"Security. I'm sure you know who the murdered man was."
"What sort of business?"
"A club on Mykonos."
Yianni made another note. "Did the victim say or do anything in his conversation with you that in any way suggested concern for his safety?"
Pepe gestured no. "Absolutely not."
"Are you aware of anyone else who knew about your meeting with the Colonel?"
"No one I knew, that's for sure."
Yianni drew in and let out a deep breath. "What a terrible thing to happen on the front steps of your place of business."
"Yes, but I can't worry about that. I keep thinking of the poor man and his family."
"Of course," said Yianni. "I just wish you'd taken more care not to step on the shell casings."
Pepe looked at him for a moment. "What? I didn't step on anything."
"How can you be sure?"
He pointed at the cones. "Because when I ran to him, I ran straight for him, and the casings aren't anywhere near the line I took to get to him." He paused again. "And once I realized he was dead, I knew the police would be investigating, so I was careful how I walked back to the restaurant."
"Did you call the police from inside?"
"No, I stood by the front door and used my mobile."
"And you remained outside until the police arrived?"
"And I kept everyone away from his car."
"Thank you," said Yianni. "You've been very helpful."
More than you realize.
* * *
"Morning, Maggie. Is the Chief in?"
"He's down in the cafeteria."
"What! After all these years, he's admitted to being tired of your coffee?"
Maggie scowled. "No, Detective Wise Ass. No one ever grows tired of my coffee. He's hungry. He left home without breakfast." She paused, then added with a twinkle in her eye, "Besides, he wouldn't be brave enough to tell me if he were."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Mykonos Mob"
Copyright © 2019 Jeffrey Siger.
Excerpted by permission of Poisoned Pen Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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