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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Shirley Valentine !
The Black Monastery is a grizzly whodunit affair that spans over 30 years on the tiny Greek tourist island of Palassos. Successful crime writer Kitty needs to get away from England, her failing marriage and even writing and so lands on this once simple island, now blighted by loud bars, drunken Brits (it always us, innit!) and drugs. Unbeknown to her, Kitty...
Published on 17 May 2009 by tallpete33

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Satisfactory
This is Stav Sherez's second novel, "The Devils Playground" being his first. The situation here is not altogether original; Brits holidaying abroad on an idillic Greek Island confronted with murder. However, the strength of the characters, particularly Nikos the Greek detective, and the pacing of the plot kept me reading through to the end. If you fancy a good murder...
Published on 20 Aug. 2009 by Keyzer Soze


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Shirley Valentine !, 17 May 2009
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tallpete33 (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
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The Black Monastery is a grizzly whodunit affair that spans over 30 years on the tiny Greek tourist island of Palassos. Successful crime writer Kitty needs to get away from England, her failing marriage and even writing and so lands on this once simple island, now blighted by loud bars, drunken Brits (it always us, innit!) and drugs. Unbeknown to her, Kitty obsessive/stalker Jason had landed on the island the day before with the intention of giving her his manuscript and hopefully more...

Their timing was very bad however as teenage tourists were found mutilated on the altar of the black monastery. Their genitals and faces had been removed, their bodies stuffed with centipedes, identical to the murders of two young Greek boys in the 70s. Back then, two dozen hippies who lead a largely self-sufficient life in the island's bleak interior were blamed for their murder as part of a ritualistic sacrifice but did not face trial as they committed mass suicide in their tents soon after.

Officer Nikos, a tired and disillusioned veteran of the original crimes is brought back from the mainland with his wife at the request of Mayor Petrakis to solve the identikit crime and restore normality to the island. Crime writer Kitty can not help but get involved to her own cost, followed around by the unquestioning but rather morose Jason. The more they delve into the present and past, the more dark secrets are revealed and the island's sensitive history is rewritten by the policeman's investigations.

The plot develops thick and fast, becoming quite "labyrinthine" and occasionally confusing at times with quite a large cast and you may find yourself back-tracking at times to check who's who. There is not much levity in here and none of the characters are particularly cheerful or likeable but I believe the author wanted quite a dark atmosphere for the book which he certainly attained. That said, you are kept guessing until the end and fans of the genre will enjoy the gory details, twisting plot and final unveiling of the perpetrators of both sets of crimes. It is definitely one of the better crime books I have read though definitely not for the squeamish (7/10)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Paranoid Paradise of Palassos (Sects 'n' Drugs 'n' Rock & Roll), 29 Nov. 2012
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I read The Black Monastery after I'd finished the author's more recent novel A Dark Redemption, a path that I imagine many others will follow as Carrigan and Miller's fan base expands. There are a great many similarities between the two books, notably each has a senior police officer with a dark secret in their past and each has a plot twist requiring the characters to make a choice between two paths/trails.
The story involves our two amateur sleuths, Kitty and Jason meeting on the sunny Greek island of Palasso, a tourist trap filled with drugs and discos' where once there was fishing and farming. A series of deaths, both recent and historic confuse both the police and our heroes, who are incredibly smart and incredibly stupid by turns.
The story does tend to become fragmented at times with chunks of text with limited relevance, however for the most part it is a gripping tale. I thought that by two-thirds of the way in I pretty much had the mystery cracked but I reckoned without the Sherez multiple twists in the tale!
Certainly The Black Monastery is well worth the read and I rather hope that Amazon will issue the rest of his novels as e-books or I may have to resort to buying them on paper!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Satisfactory, 20 Aug. 2009
By 
Keyzer Soze "The Sponge" (Somerset, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
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This is Stav Sherez's second novel, "The Devils Playground" being his first. The situation here is not altogether original; Brits holidaying abroad on an idillic Greek Island confronted with murder. However, the strength of the characters, particularly Nikos the Greek detective, and the pacing of the plot kept me reading through to the end. If you fancy a good murder mystery set in the sun and sea of the Greek Islands this book will certainly satisfy.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Black Monastery, 11 Dec. 2009
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This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
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When detective Nikos arrives back in his home town, he finds himself faced with the gory murder of a young boy near an old monastery. Echoing two murders committed 33 years previously in the exact same spot, and a mass cult suicide, it brings back a part of the island's history that it has tried hard to forget.There is a lot at stake - the island's lucrative tourist trade and the open secret of the drugs trade that goes hand in hand with the hordes of mainly young British holiday makers. As Nikos begins his investigation, two British crime writers arrive on the island. The best selling Kitty Carson, on a break from the pressures of writing and her strained relationship, and Jason an aspiring writer whose aim is to strike up a friendship with her and convince her to help him get published. As the two writers are thrown together in an unexpected way, another murder is committed and Jason and Kitty are drawn into an investigation of their own. As they discover more about the island's dark past what began as a diversion becomes a dangerous pursuit.

I'm not usually up for reading straight-up mysteries or thrillers, since I tend to like mixed genres, but this novel was very good. I enjoyed the atmosphere and the tangible tension that pervaded the latter half of the novel. 'The Black Monastery' was in some ways, both a thriller and a mystery: with the story well constructed and well paced.

I really liked the characters, particularly Kitty and Nikos. They were all interesting with good consistent characterisation throughout the novel -- the light touches of humour were nice also.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crime thriller with an odd set of protagonists, 4 Feb. 2013
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A wannabe writer, Jason, stalks his role model, a 'published' crime writer, Kitty, to Greece, hoping to hook up with her and have her read his book. He meets and becomes involved with some undesirable drug dealers and pushers when he arrives on the island and pours his heart out to them. There is an undercurrent of uncertainty over whether they will drop him in it with her. Her first introduction to the island is finding no taxi, having to walk through the dark streets to a hotel and being mugged and then rescued by him.

Kitty and Jason grow close through an unfolding story of a copycat murder on the island from years before. There are centipedes stuffed in mutilated bodies, a mysterious cult in the mountains and an underground labyrinth and disappearing priests. This is a very dark story indeed.

I found it difficult to like any of the protagonists, although Stav Sherez managed somehow to turn Jason, the stalker into a more sympathetic character through the course of the book (not an easy switch really). He also revitalised the worn out writer that Kitty had been by making her into a 'real life' investigator of the mystery of the black monastery. But I was disappointed in the rather depressed detective Nikos, who was investigating the crimes but given the hidden secret of his wife, it is not too surprising that he was depressed.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Black Death, 9 Oct. 2011
This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
Macabre and grisly novel about a Greek policeman investigating the reoccurence of a seemingly cult-inspired series of murders after thirty years. Other characters include a sappy British tourist, a second-rate female writer, and a crazy priest.
The chapters are short and the whole novel isn't really that long; this is definitely in its favour as the book is a lame and predictable affair that unashamedly borrows genre tropes throughout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ...Greek is the word..., 22 May 2009
By 
Mr. H "Mr H" (Embra) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
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So what do we have here? An author, a stalker, a Greek detective and some dodgy priests. Sounds like a reasonable premise for a piece of crime fiction, and it is. Almost.

Basically, Nikos (the detective) is investigating a murder near an old monastery which are similar to two murders committed over thirty years ago. Kitty Carson (the author) arrives on her hols, taking a break from the pressures of writing and her relationship, as does Jason (the stalker), who has been pursuing her in an attempt to persuade her to help him get published. Add in some drug dealing, a cult and another murder, and there's enough plot to keep you going.

However, it is incredibly slow to get going, and all the rubbish about poor Kitty doesn't engender any sympathy in people who actually have to work for a living, so a little less of her angst would have been nice. Once things get to the Greek islands, it picks up a bit, and the best bits of the book take place half way through. The writing is a bit muddled as there doesn't seem to be a consistent voice, but when the plot picks up pace, that's easy to ignore.

Nikos is by far the best character and some more back story on him would have been very welcome, especially if it reduced the amount of Kitty we're forced to endure. It makes a change (for me) to have a non US/UK based crime story and I suspect the exotic locale helped me enjoy the book more than I would have, had the characters been relocated. It can also be a bit repetitive, but hopefully there was some time for last minute editing, which could sneak the book an extra point.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing whodunnit on a Greek island, 1 April 2009
By 
Rowena Hoseason "Hooligween" (Kernow, Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
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This is ideal holiday reading for people who enjoy crime / whodunnit novels. The author can certainly deliver artful and intelligent prose and has a pacey delivery which suits the cliff-hanger style of the story. The plot is intriguing (a series of murders on a holiday island which recall the horrors of cult killings back in the 1970s), and the central detective is an engaging character. He obviously was involved somehow as a rookie back when the killer-centipede clut first arose; now he has to deal with the repercussions in the modern day when he'd much rather be contemplating retirement. It's a good set up and Stav Sherez delivers an above-average novel around these bare bones.

Most of the really impressive writing is contained in the prelude; if you find it's a bit arty for your tastes then carry onto the main body of the text which isn't trying to hard to be literary, and so flows rather better. The chapters are short and punchy, and tend to end with a mini cliff-hanger to keep you turning the pages.
I was fairly dubious about the female lead character, because she is a thriller writer and it always seems to be a cop-out to have one of the characters as a writer or journalist. However, my initial grumpiness passed because she proved to be a good way to open out the mystery and bring in a note of vulnerability and an interesting sub-plot.
There's also a backdrop of modern day drug smuggling, plus a mystery in the detective's personal life, and the likelihood that the lives of the main characters could be greatly affected by the outcome of the investigation. As the truth is revealed, so the level of danger for all involved rises... and the reader never quite knows who might be the next victim. It kept me reading, and I enjoyed the outcome.
Some times the writing wanders a little -- several of the minor characters seems to speak with exactly the same phrases as the narrator, for instance -- and I'm not entirely sure that all of the sub-plots were resolved at the end of the book.
But overall it was an enjoyable read, one which neatly juxtaposed a booze-fuelled holiday haze with considerable menace. I would happily pick up another book by this author if I needed an airport or railway read.
7/10
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can't put it down, 29 Sept. 2012
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This was a gripping story- with a really good twist. Something a little bit different and dark. The characters were realistic and you could get to know them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too gruesome for me, 11 May 2009
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
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Nikos - a detective - has returned to his Greek island home to serve his last few years before retirement. Jason is stalking crime writer Kitty and follows her to the same island because he wants her to read his manuscript. At the start of the book a body is found - described in graphic and horrific detail - the victim of what appears to be a ritual killing.

Gradually the recent history of the island is revealed and the plot gets more convoluted. Jason and Kitty - having linked up and become friends without Jason's manuscript being mentioned - become involved in the murder investigation. It soon becomes clear that current crimes may be linked to the past where unfinished business seems to fester.

I found the plot interesting and convincing. What let it down in my opinion was the less than realistic characters with many of them appearing to be moved about a chessboard to suit the ramifications of the plot. I also thought the constant descriptions of the more unpleasant bodily functions overdone. Having said that there was very little swearing - which is a pleasant change in this type of novel.

The same murders were described several times which I felt was unnecessary and designed perhaps to shock though repetition tends to remove the shock value. A bit of subtlety would have enhanced this powerful story.
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The Black Monastery
The Black Monastery by Stav Sherez (Hardcover - 2 April 2009)
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