You know that ‘second book problem’?  Well, the second in the Athens-based Stratos Gazis crime series defies the rule; it’s better than the first.  Stratos, you’ll remember, is a big, well-built, fight-ready but ethics-driven hit-man (work that one out) who shoves his way through the EU-wrecked ruins of Greek’s capital city removing scum.  This time he’s been hired by a 14-year-old blind street magician to find who killed her adoptive father.

“Is it justice you want?”

“I’m only out for revenge.  Justice disappeared the moment he died.”

But was her adoptive father the saint the girl imagines?  Evidence soon floods in that not only was he a serial paedophile but that’s why he was murdered.  Yet he never molested her.  And, despite the evidence, the accusation does not tally with his life: he had been an effective investigative journalist.  So what’s the truth?  To find out, Stratos must beat his way through encounters with low low-life, high low-life, low high-life, dealers, hookers, and hoodlums even bigger than he is.

Meanwhile his girl-friend is pregnant and wants him to give up his way of life.  And he has fallen out with the cop he unofficially works with, a man he’s known since childhood and who just happens to be in love with the same woman.  And Athens now has become a perfect stamping-ground for vampires – ‘both those that drink their own blood, scouring their legs for a vein to stick the needle into, and for those who go round exploiting the needs of others.’

It does not end tidily.

 

Baby Blue by Pol Koutsakis, translated by Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife   Bitter Lemon  paperback, £8.99, 978-1-908524-91-1

 

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