Petros Markaris: Inspector Costas Haritos
I’ve discovered a new series detective: Athens police inspector Costas Haritos.
Caught Writers & Company on CBC Radio a couple of Sundays ago, part their series “Greece: The Unfolding Drama” with Eleanor Wachtel interviewing a Greek mystery writer I’d never heard of before, Petros Markaris.
What immediately intrigued me was Eleanor Wachtel’s comment that Markaris “paints a gritty picture of life in contemporary Athens through the investigations of his fictional detective, Costas Haritos.”
When she added that Markaris is “a trenchant social critic up-to-the-minute with current issues in his most recent set of novels, “the financial crisis trilogy,” I was all ears.
Surely no one can have avoided hearing about the “Greek Crisis” over the past how-many-months seems-like-years, but for every one of you who really understands what’s going on there, there’s likely thousands of us who get the gist of it, but have no real comprehension, in human terms, of how the crisis affects the average Greek citizen.
So when, in the CBC interview, Petros Markaris revealed that his objective in turning to writing mysteries was to explore social and political realities while keeping within the genre of the crime novel I realized it might just be possible to get my Greek social history via my favourite genre. φανταστικός!
So far, so good… only one more important factor to establish; is Athens police inspector Costas Haritos a suitably ‘moody sleuth’ to qualify for inclusion in this blog?
Here, I have to trust what I’ve read in various online reviews, because I’ve only just purchased and downloaded Petros Markaris’ Deadline in Athens (translated from the Greek by David Connolly) in *eBook form. None of our local book shops had any of Petros Markaris’ Costas Haritos titles, as yet.
I intend to read Deadline in Athens as speedily as time allows, and write a full post on what I discover first hand about this reputedly grumpy Greek protagonist, but in the mean time here’s what I learned from perusing various online reviews: Costas is described as fiftyish, edgy, cynical, world-weary, some-what old-fashioned, as racist as any small-time middle-class Greek. He demonstrates a strong work ethic, and isn’t averse to some rather rough interrogation tactics.
As far as his personal life goes, he’s married to Adriani, who seems, at first, to be a bit of a shrew, very manipulative, addicted to television, opinionated and prone to sulks. One or two reviewers suggested that there’s more mutual affection in the relationship than is first apparent. Much of Adriani’s discontent might be attributed to her ‘empty nest’; daughter Katerina is away in Thessaloniki studying law.
As is almost de rigeuer for a troubled series detective, Haritos is haunted by something from his past, and he indulges in a quirky hobby: he reads dictionaries for pleasure.
I was also pleased to note that references to the city, Athens, being tangibly ‘there’ in the novel turned up in many of the reviews.
Before I go, I want to refer back to Eleanor Wachtel’s comment about Petros Markaris’ most recent set of novels, “the financial crisis trilogy.”
In my research I saw this elsewhere referred to as the Trilogy of the Crisis; the first, Overdue Loans (Lixiprothesma Daneia), was published in Greek in 2010, the second, The Settlement (I Pairaiosi), in 2011, and a third was expected in late 2012. I couldn’t establish whether or not this last one has come out yet, nor its title, or how soon we’ll see any of them in English, but they are definitely on my ‘watch for’ list.
Anyway, I’m figuratively ‘cracking the spine’ on Deadline in Athens tonight, so I hope to have a full report on Haritos by next Moody Sleuth Tuesday.
*Mini-grumble – I’m fairly quickly transitioning from ‘real’ books to eBooks; one reason being that I like to carry a small library with me, especially when travelling. However, some eBook publishers impose restrictions that irk me, like limiting me to reading only on my hand-held Sony reader, when sometimes I’d prefer using the large monitor on my desktop. I also love the convenience of being able to borrow eBooks from our local library, even when I’m not in town. No more late fees since the eBook ‘expires’ from my reader when the loan period is up. Nice! Another ‘however’ here though; I’ve recently learned that some publishers won’t license their eBooks to libraries, so even some widely known titles, major literary prize winners included, are not available to library patrons. It seems that there’s no consensus amongst publishing houses as to how this should work. Maybe to be expected as things are changing rapidly in the industry, but I’m thinking maybe something should have been learned from what transpired in the music industry not so long ago.