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The Golden Silence

Republished by MIRA UK in April 2009.

Author’s Introduction

The Golden Silence, third in the Mavros series, is my take on the gangster or Mafia novel. This sub-genre of crime fiction has a long history, dating at least from Sherlock Holmes’s battles against Professor Moriarty’s wide-ranging criminal network. The success of the Godfather movies established it in the 70s, though it has to be said that many novelists working in the area look towards the trashier end of the market. Not me, of course.

When I told Greek friends that I was planning a book set in the Athenian criminal underworld, some responded by denying the existence of any such thing. To which I raised a very sceptical Scottish eyebrow. Every big city has a criminal hierarchy and, as my subsequent research has proved, Athens is no different in that respect. In fact, given that it has a population of nearly four million, many of whom are immigrants prime for exploitation, it’s surprising that crime isn’t more of a feature in the news. Given the influx of Serbian, Albanian and former Soviet criminals, it won’t be long till inter-gang conflict like that described in the novel breaks out on the streets.

Readers of my earlier books won’t be surprised to find that I tie the criminal underworld in Greece directly to politics and to the country’s difficult 20th century history. Just as I linked contemporary terrorism to the horrors of the Second World War in The Last Red Death, I’ve located the roots of at least a section of the Greek Mafia in the dictatorship of the Colonels between 1967 and 1974. Although Greek criminals haven’t infiltrated the state to the extent of the Mafia and other such organisations in Italy, there are unquestionable links between the ruling elite and the lords of misrule.

As usual, I’ve tried to subvert stereotypes of Greece. The active boss of the largest criminal family is a woman, rather than the man you might expect in a supposedly macho Mediterranean country. She is joined by at least two other strong women, all three having been deeply scarred by their experience of totalitarian rule.

I’ve also investigated another side of Mavros - this time he is more closely involved with his ‘difficult’ girlfriend Niki, even admitting that he loves her. And I’ve allowed myself to have a degree of fun in creating a pair of very nasty villains, the Father and Son (note the standard emphasis on the family in Greece). What they do with fishing hooks isn’t for the faint-hearted...

As for the title, well, as the old proverb says, speech is silver but silence is.... Any links between a gold Mycenaean death mask, the illicit wealth of the gangsters, and the culture of silence in post-dictatorship countries are definitely not coincidental.

So, dear reader, get stuck in. I’ve tried hard to make The Golden Silence a fast-moving and exciting novel, which may make it seem more mainstream than some of the others. As usual, I await your comments via the email link with extreme interest.

Mass-market paperback ISBN 9780 7783 03237 published by MIRA in April 2009
Translations - Czech

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