Sergios Gakas’s latest novel, originally published in Greece in 2007, arrives in the nick of time. Set in Athens in the early months of 2004 as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad beckon, this brooding crime thriller begins with a house fire in a central city district, before broadening out its reach to feel its way around the capital’s more unpleasant underbelly.
To enter Gakas’s fiction is to find oneself deep within a swirling world of intrigue, crime and corruption and, crucially, to become overwhelmed by a sense that all in Athens is neither what it seems, nor destined to stay that way for very long. The author says as much in his introduction: “I belong to the minority who were against Athens holding the
But Ashes is much more than a muse on the merits of the Olympic movement. Police investigator Chronis Halkidis is a wonderfully flawed central character. So, too, is Simeon Piertzovanis, the owner of the property where the fire took hold. And that perhaps is the point: the city, its people and its institutions are all heading towards a ruinous future.