25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
No Shirley Valentine !,
This review is from: The Black Monastery (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
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)