The crime plot and the atmosphere of the mystery story are becoming increasingly popular among contemporary Greek writers who want to do more than solve riddles or uncover crimes. While in Pythagorean Crimes Tefkros Michailidis moves from a crime mystery to the world of mathematics, four other novelists move in the same direction to shed light on very different subjects.
In White Towel in the Ring, Nikos Davvetas’s main character is a reporter who undertakes the investigation of a 1944 political murder, uncovering potentially explosive evidence. Focussing his story on the Greek civil war, Davvetas sets up a crime fiction-style plot to depict the fate of the Left in Greece immediately after the end of WWII.
In Blessed are They That Mourn, Maira Papathanasopoulou plots a complex crime intrigue, writing a novel within a novel as she recounts the story of a crime writer who is in the process of writing her latest book. Her subject here is not only the material that the writer uses in her workshop, but also something that informed Papathanasopoulou’s first book, Judas Was a Great Kisser (which has been translated into many European languages), the humorous portrayal of the serial infidelities of married men.
Sakis Serefas’s I’ll Be a Singer attempts something similar to Davvetas’s book. He has his hero, a writer, investigate a murder that took place in Thessaloniki 50 years earlier. Behind the murder of a woman at the hands of her fiancé in 1950, Serefas discerns deeper questions of human existence, such as how the ethics of murder function and what language can express the need for revenge and punishment.
In Chinese Boxes, Soti Triantafyllou sets her crime tale in three New York neighbourhoods, where seven murders have occurred, raising many unanswered questions. What lies behind Triantafyllou’s crime novel? The answer is in the title. Just as a Chinese box opens to reveal another nestled inside it, so the action generates events which, instead of throwing light on matters, lead to new unsolved situations which in turn lead to further impasses. The crime story functions here as a kind of metaphor for the inability of people to determine and understand their own identity.
Greek writers are following a fairly well established international trend in this. Taking as their starting point the attraction that crime fiction exerts on most readers, they write in a sidelong fashion their own stories, stories that each bear their own mark and gravity in a complex and multi-polar world.