Over the years, the Scottish-born (but – when speaking — impeccably English-sounding) crime writer Paul Johnston has proved to be one of the most protean practitioners in the field, the effortless master of a variety of genres (many readers fondly remember his near-future thrillers featuring eccentric detective Quintilian Dalrymple). But given the author’s long residence in Greece, it’s hardly surprising that some of his finest writing has involved this sun-baked country. A good example is the recent The Black Life, a strongly-written novel told in alternating chapters which sets present day Greece against the years of the Holocaust. Johnston’s protagonist, half-Greek, half-Scottish private eye Alex Mavros, is the perfect conduit through the bifurcated narrative, which is as much an examination of Greek identity as it is of the horrors of the Second World War. The book is both truthful and (occasionally) excoriating about the writer’s adopted country, but Greece is now clearly embedded in the DNA of this talented novelist.

The Black Life by Paul Johnston is published by Créme de la Crime

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