Worshiping Dead Gods: Jeffrey Siger's MURDER IN MYKONOS
Posted by Barbara Leavy on May 13 2013, 8:01 AM
     Murder in Mykonos is the first in Jeffrey Siger's Andreas Kaldis series.  The next three are set in Athens, Patmos, and Tinos, locations that have their unique histories and associations, yielding a multiplicity of plots and themes for an author alert to the varied possibilities.  As indeed Siger is.  This September (2013) the fifth book in the series will be released, returning Andreas to the locale of the first: Mykonos After Midnight. Those following the series will probably want to know in advance where the next Kaldis books will be set, as they have had the pleasure of vicariously discovering these beautiful, mysterious, exotic, and always interesting places in Greece.

     Siger constructs the plot of Murder in Mykonos around the limited points of view of four principle characters without allowing any of them to experience the perspectives of the others.  Two of them, a serial killer and his intended victim, are together for what to her must have seemed an eternity, but has only been a short time during which they do not talk, she cannot see him, and she cannot fathom anything happening until she begins to realize he means to kill her.  But she cannot fathom what he is thinking and he does not care what she is--beyond her fear, which enhances his sexual excitement as he prepares her for sacrifice to his ancient gods.  All four characters come together near the end of the novel when there is a frantic chase to find the killer while his victim is alive, a chase which in it action, suspense, and excitement will rival or surpass any similar pursuits in other mysteries.

     Siger maintains these separate points of view throughout Murder in Mykonos;  however, he writes in the third-person so that he remains the principle narrator, always in command of the action and in control of what his characters are feeling, thinking, or revealing about themselves.  Siger nonetheless also allows his readers great latitude in interpreting characters and behavior that can seem ambiguous,  without forcefully imposing on them his final word.  This will draw in readers who like to enter into interpretive partnerships with authors, and who enjoy the work of analyzing what they read.  At the same time, the novel is a self-contained story that asks no more of readers than that they follow the action to its heart-racing conclusion.

     To look at the multiple interlocking themes in Murder in Mykonos, it would be useful to become acquainted with Siger's four point of view characters.  The plot moves from one of these characters to another in short segments uneven in length and without a rigid order in which the characters appear.  First is Andreas Kaldis, who is the serial investigator in Siger's mysteries.  Before coming to Mykonos, he had been a homicide detective in Athens in the midst of looking into some drug-related murders.  But when his inquiries brought him too close to supposedly respectable people high up in government, he was promoted upstairs to become Chief of Police in Mykonos--in reality, he had been gotten rid of. He knew this, and from his point of view he had been exiled. Andreas is keenly aware that his father, also a policeman, had to be  gotten out of the way because he was too honest, and was subsequently framed for crimes he did not commit.  The elder Kaldis had lost his job, and out of shame, he had committed suicide.  While his father is the moral yardstick by which Andreas measures himself, he also knows the Kaldis family history will always stick to him, like a visible scar.  Any real or invented slip on his part would elicit the response, like father, like son.

     Andreas chafes at having to leave behind his position with the Special Homicide Investigation unit in Athens in order to keep order in Mykonos during its busy tourist season, when its population would more than quadruple.  Instead of murders, he has to look into break-ins at vacation homes; to supervise traffic police to keep down the number of road accidents; to take under advisement complaints by visitors about policemen he is in charge of but hardly knows; and to make sure that the 24/7 nightlife in Mykonos goes on according to regulations governing clubs and hotels. In his desire to get back to Athens and homicide, Andreas proves the adage that one must be careful of what he wishes for, for he may get it.

     Soon after his arrival a decomposing body of a woman recently disappeared from a hotel is found laying on the bones of long dead people buried a crypt under a church.  Soon remains of sixteen more bodies will be unearthed from crypts beneath other churches. That made seventeen bodies likely connected to a murder committed ten years earlier, which Mykonos authorities blamed on someone arrested for another murder that the Mykonos authorities did not want to hear were unrelated killings.  A total of eighteen bodies is discovered; and to make matter worse, forensic evidence indicated that the young women appeared to have ritually murdered, each of the bodies lying bound in the same position. And to increase the horror, they seemed to have been buried alive.  It therefore becomes clear that a serial killer (hereafter referred to as S.K.) had over many years murdered young, tall, blonde visitors to Mykonos.  But if word got out that this had happened without the Mykonos authorities even known it much less stopping it, Mykonos would lose the summer tourists its economy depended on for the entire year.

     In the ensuing investigation, Andreas is joined by Tassos Stamatos, chief homicide investigator for all the Cycladic islands.  But their search for S.K. is impeded by Mykonos's mayor, who is panicked that they will report their findings to Athens and, when the story inevitably gets out, Mykonos will be ruined, will come to an end--as someone remarks later in the book.  Reluctantly Andreas and Tassos agree to find S.K. by virtually conducting an undercover search. Here it is important to note that Tassos is not a point of view character in the mystery; he only appears when he is with Andreas or is talking to him on the phone.  That Tassos has had his own connection to S.K. is one of the surprises at the end of the book and therefore Siger's reader cannot know this until Andreas does.

     The next character through whose thoughts and actions readers follow the story is Annika Vanden Haag.  She is the young daughter of a Dutch diplomat and a Greek mother who is connected to high circles in her own country.  That Annika is both intelligent and privileged is evidence her having graduated from Yale, after which she was supposed to travel around Europe in the company of her boyfriend.  When they break up, she is devastated by the circumstances and decides to make the trip herself.  Two days before she is to meet a Greek cousin in Mykonos, she arrives on the island pretending to be a tourist intending to enjoy Mykonos's night life and even to have casual sexual encounters with handsome Greek men in order to put out of her mind her recent misery.  Despite being warned about the widespread use of date-rape drugs, Annika carelessly swallows some and lapses into unconsciousness.  When she awakens, she finds herself naked and imprisoned in a pitch-black room from which she cannot find any exit.  Her abductor intends to make this beautiful woman the next of his sacrificial victims. When Annika is first missed by her family and those who know she is supposed to be in Mykonos, her absence is not taken too seriously.  She is young and adventurous and would undoubtedly return.  It soon becomes clear, however, that Annika has met with foul play and that she is in imminent danger.

      Some of what ensues is seen through the point of view of Annika's mother, Catia Vanden Haag.  At first Catia is only mildly concerned and annoyed that the daughter who ordinarily keeps in close telephone touch with her family has not recently called while on her travels in Europe.  Catia still thinks Annika is being accompanied by her boyfriend, an assumption of which she is soon disabused.  Her concern mounts when the cousin who was supposed to meet Annika reports from Mykonos that Annika isn't there and that she does not know where she is.  Beginning to sense some evil surrounding her child, such feelings on the part of a mother being taken very seriously in Greece.  Catia decides to go to Mykonos to look for Annika herself.  She urges her husband to remain in Holland, but does contact her brother, the Deputy Minister for Public Order, who is in charge of security throughout Greece (Siger compares the agency to Homeland Security in the U.S.). When she asks him for his help, she doesn't think he takes her seriously, but when she arrives on the island, she discovers that the minister had added to the pressure on Andreas and Tassos to speed up their investigation and find his niece.

     So much will be said in the following discussion about the fourth point of view character, S.K., that there is no need to rehearse it all here. What is important now is that in his guise as an ordinary Mykonos resident, he will become of the five suspects in the abduction and possible death of Annika.  The five are a taxi driver who had picked up Annika as a fare and is know for his bizarre sexual practices, masturbating in the front seat of his car when he has an attractive woman in the back seat; a hotel owner who has hidden cameras in his rooms so that he can make videos of his female guests entertaining men and then insist his sexual partners re-enact what they see in the videos; a South African jeweler who lives in Athens off-season and has an extended conversation with Annika in his shop as she looks over his jewelry and Greek antiquities; an American artist who paints nymphs that resemble S.K.'s sacrificial victims; and, finally, a strange Anglican priest who says the Liturgy on Mykonos when he is there for part of the year and who is known to Scotland Yard.  Which of these suspects is actually S.K. is not revealed by Siger until the very last sentence in his book, satisfying many readers' need to know definitively whodunit.  Perhaps Siger does not think that identifying S.K is that important, that what will always be of interest in a dual personality is Mr. Hyde and not Dr. Jekyll. S.K. is a psychotic killer with some kind of dissociative personality disorder. This is not what is known as a split personality, for S. K. remembers what he does when he leaves behind his ordinary life; and, moreover, he plans his sacrifices very carefully.   

     Murder in Mykonos, like the following books in the series, yields everything mystery readers would want to find in a thriller, fast-paced action; suspense and a surprise ending; themes arising from Greece's national and international problems; explicitly described sex; interesting, highly-individualized characters; the machinations often found in police procedurals as a dedicated police officer must do his work despite rather than with the help of those who have more authority and whose self-interest thwarts the investigation. Murder in Mykonos is not a film (although it could easily be made into one) but it has the feel of a movie.  What the characters say to each other is usually accompanied by descriptions of how their body language and gestures accompany their words, so that they are depicted in motion.  A good example from countless other possible ones occurs when Andreas and Tassos sit in a taverna to discuss the progress of their case.  As they talk, they frequently stop talking to raise their glasses of wine and drink before resuming their conversation.

     Siger is a superb writer and his smooth prose is replete with a large and varied vocabulary; a felicity of expression, an ear for the rhythm of his sentences; an ability to fit a conversation to the character speaking; a keen wit that allows him to lighten his grim story with some humorous interludes; and a gift for creating poetic images when he describes the landscape of Mykonos.  He is also adept at bringing to life the party scenes in Mykonos, exciting but also dangerous.  Siger is, moreover, a wonderful teacher.  Readers will learn about the island, for the mystery supplies fascinating details about Mykonos.

     People who travel, go to museums, and read widely would not be surprised to visit private chapels on grand estates. But an island literally dotted with very small family churches, so that a thorough search of Mykonos's churches in a short time would be almost impossible, is fascinating.  And without being diverted from a tense plot, a reader will nonetheless absorb a great deal about Greece, its history, its customs, its festivals, its ancient mythology, its politics, its social strata.  Siger really captures through dialogue how persons in high positions speak and act so that if what they are involved in goes wrong, they can deny accountability and point a finger at someone else.

     But much of what has just been described, both about Mykonos and also about Siger as a writer is also true of the following books in the Kaldis series. Murder in Mykonos, however, stands out as being a particularly dark book.  As an abducted woman is imprisoned in an underground dungeon by a madman who intends to sacrifice her to the ancient gods he worships, readers take on the role of Orpheus, who follows the police into the underworld from which Eurydice will hopefully he rescued; and follows Jeffrey Siger into the bizarre recesses of a sociopath's mind, in which ancient Egyptian gods are fused with Christian saints to whom family churches are dedicated.  S.K.'s sacrificed victims are "tributes" to his gods but somehow in his twisted mind they connect with the saints he still wants to honor.

     As the plot unfolds, however, it is not Orpheus and Eurydice but rather Hades, ruler of the world of the dead that bears his name; Demeter, goddess of the earth and harvest, that is of living things; and her daughter Persephone whose stories supply a possible mythological background to Siger's story.  Persephone has been abducted by Hades, and because she eats seeds of a pomegranate, she can only return to the upper-world for part of the year.  Her grieving mother Demeter, goddess of harvests, leaves the earth fallow while her daughter is gone.  Similarly, in Murder in Mykonos, Annika picks up a man in a bar and drinks the date-rape drug in a glass of wine, or eats it in some chocolate souffle he orders while she has gone to the restroom.  Whether in the wine or in the souffle, the drug will render her unconscious so that S.K. may carry her off to the dungeon in which he prepares his tributes for sacrifice.

     Hades had similarly enticed Persephone with food, the pomegranate, knowing that if she eats any of it, she would never completely escape him.  And like Persephone, Annika becomes a prisoner in the world of the dead--at one point she wakes up in S.K.'s prison and thinks she is in some kind of "hell"--while her mother Catia is made increasingly frantic by her daughter's disappearance, fearful that she will never get her daughter back.  These parallels between an ancient Greek myth and Siger's plot seem hardly accidental, and if they are, coincidence would illustrate how an author absorbs what he reads and it comes out without his conscious awareness.

     The sticking point is that Hades, Demeter, and Persephone are not the gods that S.K. worships. Instead his gods are Serapis and Anubis, Egyptian deities who existed before and were replaced by Greek deities.  Like Hades, Serapis is the god of the underworld in which the dead dwell.  Serapis's wife is the Egyptian goddess Isis, who rules over the earth and its fertility and is often compared to Demeter.  But in the Egyptian stories  there is no daughter who corresponds to Persephone, although S.K.'s sacrifices add a surrogate daughter to the myth.  The departure from the Greek version  may have to do with S.K.'s passing from the Egyptian gods to the Christian saints, leaving out of his personal mythology the gods and goddesses of the Greek pantheon. (More will be said about this later.)

     As Siger's plot develops, his reader may notice that S.K. does not worship any female gods; he does not, of course, consider the saints to be deities.  In his worship of Serapis and Anubis, even Isis is removed from the relationship with her husband Serapis.  S.K.'s pushing aside of Isis may also illuminate why the triad of Demeter, Persephone, and Hades could never be his myth, however much the likeness between Hades and Serapis.  Demeter and Persephone dominate their story, which is not only about parent and child, the parent helpless to protect the child she loves, but also specifically about mothers and daughters.

     If Siger's reader wanted to go one step further, removing S.K. from Murder in Mykonos and creating a psychological case history, it would be significant that S.K.'s mother is noticeable by her absence from S.K.'s self-told story about himself and his past (he remembers incidents and the reader follows his memories).  It will turn out that his father abused him and very likely forced S.K.'s sister into an incestuous sexual relationship. If S.K. were offering this account of his family to a psychotherapist, the latter might wonder where the mother was in this family drama and try to draw from his patient more about her place in the household. The material for constructing this case history is there in Murder in Mykonos, both in what is present and what is absent from the picture of S.K., his thoughts and his actions, and equally important, his silences. But Siger's reader need not play therapist. The critical point is that S.K.'s association with women is perverse and sadistic and that this negative relationship is evidenced by his banishing female deities from his personal mythology.

     Anubis's place in S.K.'s theme has to do less with why S.K. murders than how.  Anubis was the gatekeeper to the realm of the dead, and his name frequently comes up in disputes over whether or not the ancient Egyptians practiced human sacrifice.  Interestingly, much of the debate centers on some evidence that human sacrifices were buried alive--just as it will be discovered that S.K.'s sacrificed tributes dug up in Mykonos had been alive when placed in the crypt already occupied by the bones of the long dead.  Because Anubis was also associated with embalming and in this way prepared the dead for interrment, S.K. could put together discrete pieces of Anubis's function and create a ritual in which preparing a woman for sacrifice and then burying her alive were reflections of his worship of Anubis.

     A few words about the uses of mythology will make it easier to understand how a sociopath with sadistic sexual urges can construct his own myth out of pieces of existing ones.  Like folktales, myths travel from place to place, from one country to another, and they are adopted and adapted by different cultures to meet specific needs, and even by individual narrators (storytellers) hoping to foster changes in their society.  That is why there are often so many versions of the same myth, or so many gods and goddesses with more than one name, often an added name that designates the specific place where the deity is worshipped.  Similarly, scholars who study these gods and myths must, like biographers and historians, make a selection from a vast store of what is known.  They therefore re-create myths however objective they try to be.  As an example, consulting two equally authoritative texts to learn about Isis will be to discover two, not one, portraits of the goddess.  Will the two scholars who wrote different texts focus on Isis the ideal mother, or Isis the ideal wife?  And if on the latter, wife of whom: Osiris or Serapis?

     Toward the end of Murder in Mykonos, when S.K. sees the collapse of his plan to sacrifice Annika to his gods, and when,
after she is rescued, Annika vows that she will make an annual pilgrimage to Delos, each invokes the name of Isis. For Annika, Isis is the mother goddess, an ideal projection of her own mother, Catia.  For S.K., Isis is as wife of Serapis and perhaps even as mother-figure one of those female deities he has banished from his personal pantheon.  S.K. says as much.  He contemplates the Temple of Isis on Delos and wonders at how "over so many centuries" so many "thought of it as merely the foundation for a sanctuary built to honor three foreign gods: Anubis and Serapis from the Land of the Dead, and Serapis' wife from the Land of the Living.  To the end, S.K. separates Isis from the male gods and consigns her to a world he has rejected.

     It is easy to comprehend Annika's view of her own mother as an avatar of Isis. Catia had flown from the Netherlands to find her missing only child.  Isis has protected Annika, for it is in her temple that Annika finds shelter as she tries to hide from S.K., giving Andreas and Tassos some more time to find her alive.  Another myth may come into play here, also associated with Delos.  The island is the place where in Greek mythology Artemis (and her twin Apollo) was born.  That Artemis is the goddess who protects from harm young unmarried women is the most familiar aspect of her role among the Greek deities.

     In contrast, S.K.'s Isis cannot be so neatly understood as Annika's. To put the pieces together to give a coherent account would be like trying to create a wheel when the spokes are different in length and of different widths.  Wisely, Siger does not try to construct  a unified explanation for his readers from the fragmented pieces of a madman's mind. Many readers of Murder in Mykonos will accept the author's portrayal of S.K., will know that S.K. is insane, and will only want to read how he will be stopped and further murders prevented.  Readers who want to dig deeper will find enough of S.K.'s self-created story to at lest assemble some comprehensible account of what has driven him  to murder his victims.  But it can only be a partial and speculative account that cannot be confirmed by any psychological theory, for such theories have not yet and may never be scientifically validated.  At one point, after Andreas and Tassos realize that Annika is being taken to Delos, on which there is a church dedicated to Saint Kiriake. That it is her name day alerts them to the next place S.K. will bury his tributes, Andreas tries to anticipate S.K.'s next moves and wishes he could get inside his mind. To do so might reveal a plan but would also reveal how bizarre S.K.'s thinking is.  Earlier, Andreas had admitted about S.K. that he could not "figure him out," nor could he understand S.K.'s personal rituals.  Tassos will later agree: "He's probably twisted so many things up inside his head even he doesn't know what's driving him anymore.  I don't see much of a chance of us ever knowing what pushed him over the edge, but I do think we'll identify him." 

     It is possible, nevertheless, for readers to make some sense of what Isis, Serapis, and Anubis signify for S.K. Because of Siger's narrative device, which isolates the point of view of S.K. from that of Andreas, who shares what he knows and imagines with Tassos, Siger's readers will have an advantage that Andreas and Tassos lack.  They have not been privy to S.K.'s weird motives for his murderous acts.  Early in the book, Andreas puzzles over bits of cotton found with the buried skeletons of S.K.'s victims.  Tassos explains that although Greeks do not embalm their dead, they did want the body on display before the burial.  So they stuff the body's orifices with wads of cotton to prevent fluids from leaking out, finding tampons useful for this purpose.

     It will turn out that S.K. inserts tampons into Annika's vagina, anus, and nose as he prepares her for sacrifice in the same way he had prepared his other tributes.  It is part of his sexual sadism to cause her pain.  But the significance of the tampons does not end here.  Isis, wife of Serapis, is the goddess of fertility, both of the earth and of the human mothers she protects during childbirth.  A tampon represents the opposite of fertility and conception.  It signifies that a woman is not pregnant, and is also an inversion of what Isis as goddess of fertility stands for.  That is, for S.K. Isis as Serapis's wife is Isis the goddess of sex, separate from the cycles of birth, death, and rebirth associated with her.  In S.K.'s personal mythology, she represents sex without procreation.  But there is yet one more point to be made about the tampons: by using them as he does, S.K. is strangely combining a modern Greek practice with a perverse inversion of Isis's role.  It is this bizarre mingling of old and new that defines how S.K.'s mind is "twisted"--as Tassos puts it--and how he twists around each pieces of different myths. 

     Many handbooks of mythology as well as scholarly studies of ancient myth are amazingly silent on the subject of sex. A goddess of fertility, motherhood and childbirth, Isis seems, to read some accounts of her, to be surprisingly unconnected to any sexual acts.  An exception to this silence can be found in a story about her and her first husband, Osiris.  His jealous brother Set tried more than once to kill him.  Finally, thinking to avoid any resurrection of Osiris, his brother chopped his body into pieces and scattered them.  Isis, a devoted wife and apparently eager sexual partner, gathered up the body parts and reassembled them.  But Osiris's phallus was missing. (In one account it had been eaten by a fish!). Isis fashioned him another, significantly and symbolically made of gold, and after resuming sexual relations with Osiris, she gives birth to a child.

     It is difficult, however, to reconcile S.K.'s emphasis on Isis as wife of Serapis with his own sexual practices, which makes sex between a man and woman almost superfluous.  He feeds Annika a date-rape drug in order to abduct her, and crystal meth to keep her drugged and only semi-conscious.  But crystal meth also increases sexual desire.  Whether it is because she has been injected with the drug, whether her captivity in an underground place has released something buried in her own unconscious, whether it is her memory of her boyfriend and their times in bed together, or the song S.K. had found out about and was playing for her, Annika's sexual desire had reached a high pitch.  As she feels around the smooth wall that encircles her, she finds a protuberance that she uses as she would a male partner.  In the ensuing description the pronoun "he" is used and whether Annika is masturbating or fantasizing, or both, she achieves an orgasm that leaves her screaming.  Much later in the book, just before she is rescued on Delos, and her physical struggle with S.K. leaves her exhausted and terrified, no longer knowing what to do to save herself, Annika "started to spin around in the light . . . and scream . . . and scream . . . and scream."  Two different reasons for screaming--but  perhaps not. Siger is in complete control of his language and images.  Both sex with a surrogate object and Annika's final desperation to save herself have to do with releasing from within powerful drives, one for sexual satisfaction, the other for survival.

     S.K., however, doesn't want sex with Annika.  He only wants to watch what she is doing.  Looking at her drugged and sleeping beautiful body, he had masturbated, at which point readers learn from S.K.'s own thoughts and memories that he was sadistically abused when young because of his propensity to watch.  He had been punished by his father for spying on his naked sister, or perhaps for watching father's and daughter's incestuous sex.  When S.K. thinks back, he decides that which of these he had seen doesn't matter. His father had inflicted on his young son cigarette burns, at the tip of his penis and around his groin, and S.K. bears the physical and psychological scars from this abuse.

     It will later be revealed that S.K. had murdered his sister, but his reasons are not disclosed, since he hadn't thought of her then as his first "tribute" to his gods.  Clearly, however, his descent into madness was accelerating.  His beautiful sister looked like the women he chose on Mykonos to be his sacrifices.  Perhaps these later sacrifices help him rationalize the murder of his sister, his personal myth formulated to place that earlier killing into a framework that both accounts for the earlier act and also allows him to continue killing his sister, over and over.  Significantly, his watching of his sister, for which he was brutally punished, is replicated by the pleasure he derives not from any sex act, but from watching.  He knows this about himself for it was his preference, and he confines Annika as he had confined his earlier victims in a room in which they cannot see but he, with the aid of night vision glasses, can.  It was part of his ritual that "he showed his tributes no sign that he existed in their world--or they in his. That was how it should be.  That was how he wanted it to be.  That was how it was."  In moments of consciousness Annika feels very sore and thinks he has been raping her.  But he hasn't been, and it would seem that whatever hurt her was something she had done to herself, something S.K. had enjoyed watching.

     After he prepares Annika for sacrifice, S.K. brings her out of his lair into the upper world, where he must conceal her until he can safely take her to the Church of Saint Kiriake, where he will bury her alive.  As he had with earlier victims, he talks to her, to explain why she must die.  Again, he is just verbalizing the rationale for his own ritual, talking to himself like an actor going over a script, not knowing Annika understands Greek.  She listens to him "ramble on" about "honoring the ancient gods of the underworld for treasures revealed to him beneath the earth and also about honoring the saints of neglected churches." He will continue explaining, "It is important to honor the saints," adding, "but what of the ancient, long neglected gods?  The gods who "allowed me to live among them and flourish.  Are they any less worthy of honor than the saints?" But even if Annika had cared about what he was talking about, she could not know--for once again, their points of view remain disparate.  She was, moreover, only focused on staying alive.  That S.K.'s gods had allowed him to flourish in Mykonos would in any event provide one of the surprises at the end of Murder in Mykonos and for the sake of the plot, it is just as well that Annika does not care to understand him.

     In his dissociative state, S.K. contradicts himself.  By honoring the Christian saints, he in effect living in their world.  By honoring the old gods, he is removing himself from that world.  But in this contradiction, S.K. is also describing the historical changes that occurred when saints, his living gods, supplanted the pagan gods, the dead gods.  Dead in the sense that the gods S.K. worships dwell with the dead in the underworld, and also dead in that they are no longer honored.  He probably imagines that he is symbolically turning back the stages of western civilization when he lays a living tribute over long dead bones in burial crypts.  His sacrificed women have effectively taken the place of those earlier buried Christian bodies.  By desecrating Christian churches even when he claims to honor the saints they are named after, he possibly thinks he is giving back to the pagan gods what was taken from them.  The ways in which he prepares his victims for death suggest ancient sacrifices.  There is some controversy about whether the Egyptians practiced human sacrifice.  If they did, they often buried people alive.  But some sources argue they only sacrificed effigies of the living.  Positioning his tributes in a ritualized position with their arms crossed and all hair shaved from their  bodies suggests S.K. is doing both, burying still-breathing humans with statuesque effigies made to appear less than human flesh.  Whatever S.K. may think, he wells in two worlds.  To understand his recreated, personal and twisted myth, however, is also to recognize that in it he passes over the pantheon of Greek mythological deities.

     Christian saints, like the Jews before them, based their religious beliefs on prohibitions.  It is what thou shalt not do that should prevail over human instinct.  Physical abnegation in this world confirms the priority of the soul.  Greek Orthodoxy seems not to value asceticism as highly as does Roman Catholicism.  Still, prohibitions define the lives of the observant: for example, fornication is proscribed. And even when the pleasures of this world are not forbidden, they must always be consistent with the higher aims of the spiritual life.  For saints, however, this world recedes in importance before the next.  They more easily endured their martyrdom because their agony would, according to their beliefs, only last as long as a fraction of a second in relation to eternity.  Complete or partial repression of physical drives is required of those who would emulate the saints, but the need to act out deadly sins does not go away.  Instincts are merely driven into a symbolic underworld. And the farther a civilization based on Christianity advanced, the deeper would be their burial. That is essentially what Freud meant in writing of civilization and its discontents.  When the identity of S.K. is revealed in the last sentence of Murder in Mykonos, it can be seen that he had chafed against the restraints civilization had forced on him, although he at the same time enjoyed the relative lack of inhibition Mykonos stood for.  But it wasn't enough.

     Freud used the image of an hydraulic system to describe what happens when deeply buried instincts burst forth.  He was also fascinated by archaeology, by the digging up of relics from the distant past.  From these other interests, he formulated the idea of the "return of the repressed."  The foundation of psychoanalysis has to do both with the threats posed when instinct is repressed too deeply, as well as the harm that might occur when what is repressed breaks through the conscious mind.  S.K. would be an extreme case in point.  Freud contended that when what was buried was brought to light, it could be dealt with and the patient be treated and could be cured of his neurosis.  Within this theoretical framework,  if his underground dungeon is therefore understood to be S.K.'s unconscious as well as a place to which he can retreat far from civilization, then he also had to worship gods who belonged to a darker realm than the Greek deities, who were so much of the living world. Paradoxically, he thanks the saints for allowing him to flourish in Mykonos, even though their own otherworldliness is inconsistent with his twisted logic.  Still, for A.K., consciously or otherwise, the Egyptian male gods, Serapis and Anubis, correspond to the dark places to which he recedes from the world. When S.K. emerges and brings his sacrificial victims out of the darkness into the light, he has perverted any idea--Platonic or Freudian--that he is seeking enlightenment.  He is not, moreover, one of the neurotics whom Freud and his followers tried to "cure."  Rather, he is psychotic, and whether psychotics can be treated by the same means as neurotics remains for some psychologists an open question.

    Still, S.K. conducts most of his life in the civilized world, and the "living gods" have a place in his belief system.  But he must also find a real and symbolic place for what the world insists he repress, urges buried so deep that the Greek gods and goddesses cannot represent them.  In the course of western civilization the temples of Isis were converted into Christian churches honoring the Virgin Mary.  Research does not reveal that the earlier temples were successfully devoted to Aphrodite, representing some kind of intermediate stage between the Egyptian deities and the Christian saints. Isis and Aphrodite have been traditionally associated with each other, but Egyptian and Greek mythology differ in how they relate to human life. Many commentators on Greek myths have noted that the behavior of the gods reflect the behavior of mortals.  The gods are subject to the same passions and even petty resentments, and these responses to each other as well as to humans drive many of the best-known stories about them.  From the perspective of S.K., therefore, most of the Greek deities belong to the world of the living rather than that of the dead. 
   The erotic love that Aphrodite stands for may be sexual and passionate but it is not perverse--except perhaps in the eyes of ascetic saints and puritan clerics.  It would be illustrated in the next Andreas Kaldis books by the lovemaking that takes place between Andreas and Lila, who would in the next book be Andreas's lover, and in the fourth book (Target: Tinos) become Andreas's wife. S.K., in contrast had descended to a place that lay buried more deeply in his psyche than anything Aphrodite would stand for.  If his underground dungeon is therefore understood to be his unconscious as well as a place to which he can retreat far from civilization, then he also had to worship gods who belonged to a darker realm than the Greek deities, who were so much of the living world, inhabited.  Paradoxically, he thanks the saints for allowing him to flourish in Mykonos, even though their own otherworldliness is inconsistent with his twisted logic.  Still, for S. K., consciously or otherwise, the Egyptian male gods, Serapis and Anubis, correspond to the dark places to which he recedes from the world. Of course, he does not conceptualize his beliefs in this way. Rather, he clings to his conviction that the old gods have been unfairly ignored and that he must do his part to rectify the loss of honor afforded them.

     How Siger uses myth in Murder in Mykonos is complex and profound.  Interpreting the narrative elements in S.K.'s own mythology is itself an act of analysis, trying to see the ninety-percent that lies beneath the tip of the iceberg (another Freudian image).  At one point in the search through Mykonos's tunnels to find Annika, the name of another mythical figure, Ariadne, is mentioned.  She had led the hero Theseus out of the maze in whose center is the devouring bull to whom regular sacrifices of youths and maidens are made, a bull that Theseus slays.  The police, Andreas, and Tassos have no such thread to follow either in or out of the tunnels, or in and out of the maze that forms S.K.'s psyche. But along their way through the deserted mine tunnels, pieces of broken Greek pottery are seen.  And their existence leads to another parallel between what happens in Murder in Mykonos, and thematic elements in ancient Greek mythology.

     A seeming confusion about the roles and names of the gods Hades, Pluto, and Plutus has resulted in Hades sometimes being identified--incorrectly some scholars claim--as not only the god of the underworld but also the god of money and wealth.  The question then arises concerning how Hades' wealth was acquired.  Did it come from bountiful harvests or, more likely, from the precious minerals and gems Hades sits upon below the earth's surface. In Murder in Mykonos, the miles of deserted mine tunnels, and the caves and chasms formed by upheavals in the earth, such as earthquakes, are also a source of wealth. Ancient artifacts could be unearthed from them, illegally sold outside of Greece at high prices, often to disappear into the "caves" of private collectors, out of reach of any attempt by Greece to recover them.  Ironically, these treasures were originally buried to protect them from marauding pirates, such treasures later to be plundered by Greeces internal pirates.  This seems to be what S.K. means when he says he must worship the living saints because they have allowed him to "flourish" in Mykonos.  This source of personal wealth will play an important part in Siger's mystery.  In these stories of subterranean wealth, Greece's history, its present concerns about recovering treasures from foreign lands, its internal corruption and greed replacing external invaders, combine to form another instance of how themes from contemporary life and ancient myths interact in the novel.

      The themes concerning personal greed inevitably lead to moral issues.  But first, it should be realized that the very plot of Murder in Mykonos has moral ambiguity built into it.  The time limit within which Andreas and Tassos must find S.K.--before Mykonos knows a serial killer has preyed on tourists for at least twenty years and the tourist season is ruined--is a constant impediment to the success of their investigation.  It also exacerbates the ethical problem Andreas must face. At first thought, there seems to be little if any choice between the safety of Annika and other potential victims of the serial killer, and Mykonos itself, which depends on its tourist season for its prosperity.  The nauseatingly self-interested mayor, Mihali Vasilas, who typifies the self-serving and power-hungry politicans of Greece, makes the moral conflict an apparently easy one to resolve.  At a point near the end of the book, Catia says as she walks away from the mayor, "Sir, I do not like you," the honorific "sir" only emphasizing  her revulsion, which Siger's readers will probably share.

     But what if a reader with a philosophical bent wanted to play devil's advocate?  He might hypothesize a situation in which Mykonos's mayor were the kind of incorruptible administrator that Andreas's father was a a police officer--although it must be understood that it would be highly unlikely that such a person would get to be mayor of the island.  After all, Andreas has been banished to Mykonos from Athens because the successful resolution of a case threatened the top officials in power.  An even stronger example of the unlikelihood that an honest person would become mayor of Mykonos has to do with Andreas's father, whose presence and spirit exist in Siger's novel even though he has been long dead.  Andreas's father committed suicide because of the shame he suffered after being set up to appear to be a corrupt police officer justifiably removed from his job.  Still, would this hypothetic good mayor immediately make Annika's survival instead of the survivial of the island his choice?

     The philosophical gadfly could claim that the conflict between Annika and the island of Mykonos is itself based on a false premise, and any simple resolution to the conflict would not be simple so much as simplistic.  Still, the implications of the choice faced by this mayor will not easily go away.  Since the Englightenment, western thought has tended to give priority to the individual in any stand against group pressure.  But the idea of a "group," it could be argued, is a very abstract one, and it is too easy to forget that the so-called group is made up of individuals.  To create another hypothetical but not impossible situation, what if a Mykonian has sunk a lifetime of savings into a restaurant or shop dependent on tourists, and his business fails as the tourist season proves to be the summer that never was? His failure and the loss of hopes and the fruits of years of honorable labor so devastate the man, who also cannot bear what will happen to his family, that he commits suicide. What principle would place Annika's life before his?  Who should be sacrificed to whom in Murder in Mykonos, in which sacrifice itself is a major theme?

     But does Murder in Mykonos require or even encourage readers to ask these hypothetical questions?  Perhaps not, but, again, Siger's plot has such questions built into it.  A reader with a strong familiarity with the novel's literary predecessors will, moreover, reccognize that Murder in Mykonos has some notable literary siblings and is also connected to a fairly widespread urban legend.  The latter is known as the disappearing hotel room.  There are many versions of it, including a film starring Jean Simmons and Dirk Bogarde, So Long at the Fair. The basic story tells how a young woman travels with her brother to the Paris Exposition that takes place at the end of the nineteenth century.  They take separate rooms in a hotel, but to obtain medicine for her brother, who appears to be getting ill, the sister leaves the hotel.  When she returns, she finds that her brother's room no longer exists.  Equally frightening is the hotel's denial that he even registered.  Worse, his sister cannot even prove that he exists.  In some variants, the sister becomes insane and ends her life in a mental institution.  The film, however, has a happier ending.  It turns out that while she was gone, her brother was diagnosed as suffering from and probably carrying the bubonic plague.  He was secreted away to a hospital, the reason for his admission kept secret.  For the news that the plague had come to Paris would have been a disaster for the city that is counting on tourists coming to the exposition, the hotel a particular instance of economic ruin.  The film ends optimistically, as such films will, with an explanation fo what has happened and the possibility that the brother will recover.

     The moral issue at the heart of the disappearing hotel room exists only by inference, the story intended to create horror in what is essentially a thriller.  But moral issues dominate a similar set of circumstances in Ibsen's play, An Enemy of the People.  A Norwegian seaside town, not unlike Mykonos, hopes to attract tourists to its therapeutic baths.  Dr. Stockmann, the town's physician, discovers that the baths are polluted and a medical danger to those who will immerse themselves in the waters.  The doctor urges that the baths be closed and is therefor deemed an enemy of the hopeful folk, who anticipate prosperity coming to their town.  For Stockmann (and for Ibsen) the ethical concern admits of no ambiguity.  Stockmann as a result experiences no conflict, as does, for example, Andreas, who is intent on finding Annika and making sure no other tourist is murdered by S.K. But Andreas has, as well, a personal stake in the future of Mykonos.  He worries that if he defies the major and takes it upon himself to make public the existence of a serial killer on the island, he will lose his chance of being reassigned to Athens and will probably lose his job.  Tassos is also concerned that going over the mayor's head will force him into early retirement, or, worse, make him the victim of a trumped up charge that would end by his being denied his pension.  The Deputy Minister of Public Order must wrestle with his own ambivalence.  Annika is his niece, the daughter of Catia, his sister, and family counts for a great deal.  But he also aware of the problem faced by the island, if for no other reason than its ruin could be traced back to a decision he made.  Here the conflict between an individual and groups take an ironic turn: Annika versus Mykonos; family versus his own career and self-interest.

     When Andreas and Tassos agree to hide their investigation, it is partly because they want to remain on the case and prevent past horrific crimes from continuing into the future, and partly because they want to protect themselves from the domino effect of making public the existence of S.K. This is also true later when, after S.K. is caught, they agree once more to keep his existence secret. No matter what the adverse outcome, the buck will stop with them. cooperation with higher authorities is therefore pragmatic, if not entirely pure.  In contrast, Ibsen's Dr. Stockmann stands unyielding and alone in the face of an ethical situation that for him admits of no vacillating.  He is firm in his conviction that in any confrontation between the individual and society, the individual must have priority.

     In a play strongly influenced by An Enemy of the People, polluted baths, perhaps better described as polluting baths are not themselves part of Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart. Still, Kramer's audience would have known they existed back stage. Ned, the gay protagonist, has also become an enemy of the people, whom he had thought of as his people.  At a time when for the gay community an active, open sex life and even promiscuity had become for many homosexual men an expression of who they were as well as a proclamation of their right to be gay, Ned is urging abstinence.  The baths were meeting places where many of them could have sex with anonymous partners they had groped in rooms where the steam itself limited visibility.  In the face of a new, deadly disease, AIDS, instances of which were increasing exponentially, Ned's unyielding argument against homosexual sex leads to his being ostracized and even kicked out of the organization he had helped to found (in this semi-autographical play, the Gay Men's Health Crisis).  When in 1986, a year after The Normal Heart first played, Kramer's adversary, New York's Mayor Koch, reluctantly acceded to the health department's insistence that the baths be closed, the playwright probably experienced a minor victory.  The baths had stood for the very thing he had been battling.

     This confrontation between a mayor and someone who is ready to place individual well-being before the needs of the group is a plot element shared by Siger and Kramer, even though their plots differ significantly.  But that is not why The Normal Heart is being discussed here although it is a spin-off from The Enemy of the People, whose resemblance to Murder in Mykonos is more obvious.  Rather, the steadfastness of Dr. Stockmann and Ned--or obduracy depending on how it is read--raises other moral questions in Siger's novel.  A line can be drawn from Stockmann to Ned to martyred saints and perhaps even to Andreas's father.  Saint Kiriake was, like Annika, a beautiful woman. She would not marry a pagan nobleman who wants her for his wife, and who would not renounce Christianity even though it meant losing her life.  Like other martyrs, the saint could also be an enemy of the people, so long as the "people" is understood to be the pagans who saw Christianity as a threat.  Is there perhaps a difference between an enemy of the people as victim or as martyr? Neither Stockmann nor Ned is physically tortured, but each experiences tremendous pressure to compromise or, even worse, back off from his stance.  And neither has any divine miracles to help him.  Nor does Andreas, who also faces the possibility of becoming an enemy of the people.

     One of the most interesting insights into a saint's martyrdom can be found in the Preface to the published text of Robert Bolt's A Man for all Seasons. About another saint, Thomas More, Bolt says that for him to oppose King Henry VIII and face execution involved More in a simple but not easy choice.  There was no wavering between principle and self-interest for More, for More's self-interest rested on principle.  In that sense his choice was simple.  It was, of course, not easy: no one relishes having his head cut off, or leaving the family he may also have placed in danger.  Andreas Kaldis's choices were, to the contrary, neither simple nor easy.  At that point in Murder in Mykonos in which Andreas's moral choices are made most explicit, whether or not to enter into an objectionable agreement with the politicians he loathes and to continue to keep secret the existence of S.K. and the murders spread over so many years, he says to himself, "I have become one of them."

     Any path beginning with Andreas's ethical and practical dilemmas would inevitably lead back to his dead father.  It is difficult to lose one's father at eight years of age; it may be easy, however, to idealize him.  It would moreover be almost impossible to ask oneself  to what extent suicide is the ultimate act of self interest--especially if one leaves behind a wife and young son. The elder Kaldis was set up to appear a dirty cope, who as a courier, delivered demands for bribes, some of the proceeds of which he was accused of keeping himself.  He was set up because in fact, as Tassos says, he was an honest policeman and therefore a threat to the rest of his department and to the politicians to whom the police were accountable and on whom they were dependent for their jobs (Kaldis senior is a Greek Serpico). Andreas's father more probably can be read as more victim than martyr, for as far as Siger's story goes, he was not, like his son, given a chance to compromise his principles. Because of the narrative perspectives in Murder in Mykonos, what one character knows about another is less than what he can know.  But insofar as the elder Kaldis died for his honesty in a kind of self-execution, he might be thought of as a martyr.  Be that as it may, he still cannot serve his son Andreas as a clear-cut ethical model.

     When Andreas in effect sides with the mayor to hide from the inhabitants and tourists of Mykonos the truth, he has to weight principle against self-interest, for becoming "one of them" also carries a reward, his being reassigned back to Athens, where his former position would be waiting for him.  Before making his choice, he asks himself what his father would have done.  And is met with silence: nothing that can interpreted as a sign from his dead parent comes to him; nor does he hear any voice from within that would mean his father was guiding him.  On the last page of Murder in Mykonos, after Andreas and Tassos have had their confrontation and uneasy reconciliation, at least on Andreas's part, Andreas looks up at the "bright blue, cloudless Aegean sky " and says aloud, "'I don't know, Dad, I just don't know."  The cloudless sky, moreover, is not only beautiful but blank.  It offers no help to Andreas that will guide him out of his moral dilemma.

     The last confrontation between Tassos and Andreas returns the story to their first encounter. Because of the age difference between them, Tassos can be thought of as a seriously flawed father figure.  When they have their initial meeting, the first words Tassos says is that he knew Andreas's father, a "good man"--an interesting epithet from one who could not make such an unequivocal claim about himself. It becomes clearer at the end of the book that in that first meeting, they clash in what can be seen as an obvious Oedipal conflict, Tassos wondering if he were being challenged by some "Athens hot-shot putting on the local cops." If their relationship begins at a crossroads in both their lives, it is also clear that Tassos is unwilling to be a Laius who was outflanked by a younger man. 

     Because Andreas's choice to go along with Tassos and their superiors also involves the good of Mykonos, and, unlike Ibsen's Stockmann and Kramer's Ned, Andreas has chosen real people and their welfare against an abstraction, he is not merely rationalizing when he decides that in the end, S.K. has met his just desserts, if not in the way Andreas would have chosen; Annika and tourists who come to Mykonos are safe from S.K., and the island is not threatened with economic disaster.  Perhaps his compromise actually endears Andreas to all but a very judgmental reader of Murder in Mykonos.  To all but a strict believer, there is something cold about someone who hears his own voice and no one else's. And something decidedly more self-interested in his steadfastness than he cares to admit to himself.

     At the end of Murder in Mykonos, when Tassos and Andreas walk away from the final capture of S.K., Andreas having learned that Tassos had taken it upon himself to be S.K.'s  judge, jury, and executioner by shooting the serial killer before he could be arrested and brought to trial, Andreas decides there were too many moral choices to sort out in "such a short walk" as they were taking.  But another moral dilemma has yet to assert itself.  To his dismay, Andreas will piece out the evidence that Tassos had in the course of their investigation known before Andreas who S.K. was, and that Tassos had controlled the final, frantic chase after Annika's kidnapper.  And Tassos had done this so that he might hide his own complicity with other crimes committed by S.K.  This will be a surprise to Andreas--and also to Siger's readers.

     Almost pleadingly, Tassos asks Andreas to believe that until one particular discovery in the abandoned mines, he had never connected S.K. with the person who he proved to be.  More important, to believe he would never have taken part in the murders and hopes that S.K.'s gods would torture him through eternity.  When Andreas absolves Tassos from complicity in the hideous sacrifices, Tassis us relieved, but his duplicity has not entirely ended. Tassos has always known how to work the system and remain on the good side of whoever was in power.  When, in a seemingly magnanimous gesture, he tells Andreas to do with his discovery whatever Andreas's conscience requires of him, Tassos also knows that the very corruption in Greece that repels Andreas will also insure that he, Tassos, would not suffer much from Andreas's disclosures.  On his part, Andreas had already wondered if Tassos had "flipped" when he explains that in shooting S.K. he had only speeded up the process that would have ended with S.K.'s murder by another prisoner while in jail.  Tassos might be sane and have limits to what crimes he would commit or countenance, but the nature of his thinking might not be enirely different from S.K.'s.

     Siger has therefore introduced into Murder in Mykonos a scale of criminal activity--not a legal but an ethical one.  How on that scale can one precisely locate the dividing line between relatively minor and seemingly victimless crimes and more serious offenses, including murder?  How is one to decide in advance of particular circumstances what one is willing to do or not do in the name of justice, especially if justice is too often thwarted by those who control it.  Or what one is willing or not to forgive in others.  The moral ambiguities that surround Tassos are not themes developed in Siger's next three Andreas Kaldis mysteries.  It remains to be seen how Tassos is portrayed in Mykonos after Midnight and subsequent Andreas Kaldis mysteries.  It will be equally interesting to see how Siger deals with Andreas's constant need to choose between his own moral code and practical considerations forced upon him by wily Greek officials.        


     In a book to which Jeffrey Siger has contributed, Making Story, twenty-one writers describe how they plot their mysteries.  This is not a how-to book and is readable and interesting to writers and readers alike.  There are useful points made about what not to do when writing a mystery.  But if there is no recipe for good plots, it would seem to follow that what not to do would only suit some writers and not others.  One of these authors supplies a useful perspective from which to appreciate Siger's accomplishment in Murder in Mykonos.

Some of the contributors urge that plot not be identified with creating a puzzle.  Siger writes that he always begins with a theme.  But how to describe a "theme"?  In Making Story, an Icelandic mystery writer, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, cautions authors never to forget that if readers of mysteries were only interested in crime, they would just read the daily newspapers. A mystery needs to be more than just a "riddle with a body." But in actuality that is precisely what a large number of mystery readers want, a puzzle with a surprise ending in which whodunit is finally revealed.  For escaping from life as described in their daily newspapers is one of the very reasons they read mysteries.  They may indeed want to avoid what Sigurdardottir supplies as an example, the theme of "injustice all around us," of which, she says, there are no end of examples.  Of course, reader interest will also depend on how well a book is written; Sigurdardottir warns mystery writers not to turn their fiction into rhetoric, not to allow the book to become a "dry pamphlet for a cause."

     This is sound advice, but it still leaves out the interaction, and sometimes tension, between why writers write and why readers read.  Invoking two ancient critics on these tensions seems appropriate in discussing Murder in Mykonos, with its treatment of ancient myth.  Plato banished poetry (read, creative art in general) from the ideal republic, and some have argued that all subsequent theories of art and approaches to art are a rebuttal to the philosopher.  Mysteries vary from sheer entertainment, which sometimes makes of them popular best-sellers, to books with an added purpose, their authors perhaps hoping that by baring the injustices around them, they can facilitate change.  These authors may be exemplifying Horace's argument that authors should write to entertain in order to drive home an argument. (The spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.)

     A group of mystery readers sitting around a table at a dinner party, talking about current events, might very well discuss the limitations of the criminal justice system as depicted in crime fiction, or may refer to the accuracy of some mysteries as they try to illustrate the many injustices around them.  But those at the table who want to escape into a riddle with a body will remain aloof from such discussion.  Murder in Mykonos, however, can appeal to everyone at that party.  The book is not Siger's diatribe concerning what Andreas and Tassos have to deal with, although his depiction of corruption and politicking among those in power in Greece might supply strong incentives for change.

     Still, Siger is a consummate entertainer.  Instances of typical official machinations are sometimes described with a wry and ironic wit.  It is amusing to read about how often Andreas would like to pummel or tear out the tongues of lying witnesses or self-absorbed politicians he must deal with; but he restrains himself not only to protect the investigation he is conducting, but also to protect his own career.  At another point in the book, Annika's high-placed uncle pulls Andreas and then Tassos from the investigation into his niece's abduction.  It will take the wiles of Catia to cajole her brother into putting them back on the case.  Greek women have apparently learned how to deal with alpha males, but as the latter, in turn, succumb to feminine charms, they are not ignorant of what weapons women can take out of their feminine arsenals in order to have their way.  But Siger is not instructing Greek women on how to conduct their personal relationships; there surely are enough magazine articles and self-help books to do that.  The reader will nonetheless enjoy this look at Greek domestic life.  Another equally amusing episode involves Andreas's attempt to interrogate a missing suspect, and when he makes two phone calls to track him down, both the man's wife and his mistress suggest that he telephone the other.

     Murder in Mykonos provides entertainment, excitement, and a puzzle, not only whodunit but why.  Andreas and Tassos will never fathom what goes on inside a sociopath's mind.  And who could?  None of the attributes in a personality profile of a serial killer are that much help to Andreas and Tassos, for the list of characteristics found on the internet can never be exhaustive and no one serial killer could match all of them. (That the internet will save the police the money needed to hire a real profilers is not only a realistic look at technology but also the product of Siger's wry wit.)  To repeat an example, serial killers, Andreas and Tassos learn, are often abused, often sexually abused, when young, but this fits only three of their five suspects--at least as far as they know or will know.  And that is the point, so far as they can know in a fictional work that employs limited points of view to tell a story.  Nor could any explanation for the serial crimes, even if supplied by the killer himself, be self-sufficient.  S.K. murders according to a twisted logic of his own, which even he may not fully understand, as Andreas remarks at one point.  When S.K. reveals to Annika why he must sacrifice her to his gods, he speaks as if everything is clear to him.  But anyone who hears his eerily calm ranting--to use an oxymoron--knows he is listening to a madman.

     Discussing the psychology of S.K. or any serial killer at a dinner party would require a different assembly of guests at another occasion.  They would, of course, be eating tzatziki, melitzanosalata, horiatiki, psito ktapondaki, arni ouvetsi, ending with galaktoboureko, or yiaourti me meli, and finally, strong Greek coffee whose sweetness would depend on the preference of each guest.  Their favorite approach to reading might be compared to an archeological dig, although they also read for fun.  Those earlier assembly of guests, who prefer only to follow a book's action, need not follow the multiple themes in Murder in Mykonos in order to immerse themselves in the plot.  It is enough for them to know that S.K. is insane without their requiring a diagnosis; and to realize he worships strange gods never even mentioned in their Introduction to Classical Mythology courses.  Jeffrey Siger has been able to create in Murder in Mykonos an exciting mystery and, at the same time, a compelling novel.  And that is a rare accomplishment.

Note: I would like to thank Jeffrey Siger, first for writing a book that I found absorbing.  Also for answering questions I posed to him and explaining passages I was not sure I was reading correctly and some I definitely misread.  He also spared me some embarrassing goofs.  And with his usual humor, he told me that Isis had been the "hot mama" of Mykonos until replaced by Madonna--talking about transformations in goddesses!  I did not quote this in my perhaps too serious discussion of Isis and sex.

Terms of Use | Privacy Statement

Copyright © 2018 Barbara Leavy All Rights Reserved    Powered by BizNiz Developers