Ashes by Sergios Gakas
translator -Anna-maria Stanton-ife
Source – review copy
Sergios Gakas studied in france in paris ,he studied theatre ,after that he took up writing first with plays for children finally turning to fiction in 2001 ,this book was published 2007 .his books have also been translated into french and Italian .
Ashes is set in Athens in 2004 just before the Olympics and there is a huge fire in a house ,a former actress Sonia Varika is in the house she shares with a African family of refugees ,but she is the only member of the household to survive the fire ,it so happens that the next two nearest people to house ,fire and case happen to be here Ex’ lovers .one is the landlord of the house Simeon Piertzovanis he is a man who has drifted, he was a lawyer and now a slum landlord and a man looking for solace in the bottle ,the other is Colonel Chornis Halkis ,he is the police man assigned to solve how the fire started and who had started it , he works for internal affairs in the Hellenic police force .So as you see this is in the classic noir formula if you weren’t told it was Greece by the names and places it could be any where ,ex lovers ,secrets and lies ,love rivals all play a part as the book unfolds ,given the fact that Gakas has mainly work in the theatre before writing fiction this book is driven forward by the dialogue between the characters partly the two male leads which have some great inter actions during the course of the book .also the fact space is need for the olympics that is just round the corner and Athens is all of a flutter with that as well .
“When did you first meet her ?”
“21st July 1999″
the policeman was visibly irritated .”look- either you’ve got a very good memory or -”
“or that date must be important to you ”
“it’s my name day – St Simeon the holy fool .It was during the break in a game – she opened her diary and wished me a happy name day – the only person to do so all day ”
Simeon and Vhronis meet early on in the book .
I like this book as soon as it hit the door step ,I love old noir films the tense and darker side of the world where no one is black or white just lighter and darker shades of grey ,so it is here the two men both have the failing but in varying degrees ,Sonia is a classic femme fatale but one who’s beauty is past and is in decline but she has at times touched these mens lives and that plays its small part in the case ,there is also pressure on Chronis from outside and inside the police and also this leads Chronis into drugs himself much as Simeon is heading deeper into the bottle .also racism raises its head as there is a lot of tension between the refugee /native greek communities .so all in all a classic noir reset in modern Greece .the translation works well the dialogue in particular has a good flow to it .
Do you like Noir ?
Have you a favourite greek book ?