The Devil Takes Half, by Leta Serafim
The Devil Takes Half (256 pages), is the first book in the Greek Islands Mystery series, by new author Leta Serafim. A police officer with domestic problems and no experience with homicide sets out to find the killer of a beautiful archeologist.
(Starred Review–Featured as a Best Summer Debut) “Serafim’s dense prose is perfect for lovers of literary and scholarly mysteries. Her plotting is methodical and traditional, with subtle nods to Sherlock Holmes, Greek mythology, and historical events.”
—Library Journal, July 1, 2014
“[An] impressive debut …. Serafim has a good eye for people and places, and sheds light on the centuries of violent passion that have created an oppressive atmosphere hanging over the sunny Greek landscape.”
—Publishers Weekly, June 23, 2014
“This solid police procedural has a literary style and a wry sense of humor, and it is enhanced by details of archaeology and history. The unique investigative pair is delightful, and you will feel transported to the Greek Isles.” Read more….
—Emily Byers, The Statesman-Journal
At an archeological dig on the idyllic Greek Island of Chios, a severed hand is found lying in a blood-filled trench. Could it belong to Eleni Argentis, a beautiful archeologist who is also the wealthy daughter of a local ship owner? She and her young assistant, Petros, are both missing.
The chief officer of the local police force, Yiannis Patronas, suspects that Eleni and Petros happened upon something of real value. However, his search turns up nothing but handfuls of broken clay, and then, another body—that of Petros, whose throat has been brutally cut. Body parts belonging to Eleni are left behind on a remote beach, confirming her demise. Then an old priest with a fondness for TV detective shows is attacked and left for dead. The dig site is located near the monastery where he was the only resident.
Patronas interviews Petros’ longsuffering grandmother, his flighty mother and her money-grubbing boyfriend, as well as Eleni’s greedy stepmother and her charming son. He also confronts two archeologists, one British and one American …. If Eleni’s find is, as they insist, worthless, what are these men doing on Chios? Although Patronas has little experience with homicide, he is determined to conquer the evil that threatens this formerly peaceful island.
Says Leta, “I have visited over 22 of these islands and spent the equivalent of a decade among the people who inhabit them. Of all the qualities I have come to know, I most cherish the Greek sense of humor, that bittersweet viewpoint, both pungent and cynical, that is so uniquely theirs. In my view, the Greeks are always laughing at the unexpected, whatever adversity is thrown their way, passing along a bit of truth about human behavior as they go. Sages, every last one of them.”
Leta Serafim graduated from George Washington University in D.C. with a degree in political science and Russian studies. While in college, Leta worked at the Washington Post, writing obituaries and doing research for the national desk, and later joining the staff of the Los Angeles Times Washington Bureau. Following her marriage to a Greek national, Philip Serafim, Leta moved to Athens. When she moved back to the U.S. seven years later, she wrote for local papers and the Boston Globe. After her mother began to lose her sight from glaucoma, she began designing and launching multiple media campaigns to increase public awareness of this disease. Leta spends at least one month every year in Greece and has visited over 25 islands. The Devil Takes Half is her first novel and the first book in the Greek Islands Mystery series. Coffeetown Press will also be publishing her work of historical fiction, To Look on Death No More. Click here to find Leta online.
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