From the Devil’s Farm, by Leta Serafim
From the Devil’s Farm (208 pages), is the third book in Leta Serafim’s Greek Islands Mystery series. The discovery of a murdered child on Sifnos saddens Chief Officer Patronas and his colleagues, who are at a loss for a viable suspect among the migrants that crowd the island or the Greek nationals who resent their presence.
“Serafim deftly weaves police procedural with a visceral sense of place and a deeply rooted knowledge of Greek history and culture. [….] Atheist Patronas’ interplay with Papa Michalis (“the old fellow who thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes”) and the ethical dilemmas faced in dispensing justice are richly rewarding. [….] Another epitychia (success) in this Greek mystery series.”
The first two books of the series have received high praise from both critics and readers. The Devil Takes Half was a finalist in the mystery category of the Eric Hoffer Awards.
The Devil Takes Half: (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
“[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
A Greek American tourist, Lydia Pappas, stumbles upon a child’s body in the ruins of an ancient temple, well hidden on the top of a cliff. The boy has been bled dry, though no blood is in evidence, leading the Greek police investigator, Yiannis Patronas, to believe the killer must have collected it. Greece’s financial crisis has reduced the police force on Sifnos to one officer, Petros Nikolaidis, so Patronas has been summoned from his home base of Chios to aid in the case. Accompanying him are his colleagues, Giorgos Tembelos and Evangelos Demos, as well as Papa Michalis, an ancient Orthodox priest with a vast knowledge of detective fiction and an uncanny ability to ferret out the truth. Though eccentric and often irritating, Michalis has been an asset to Patronas over the years in a land where homicide was, until recently, a rare occurrence. But Greece is changing daily, with a tide of migrants straining the country’s already diminished resources and occasionally bringing out the worst in her people.
The child appears to have been sacrificed according to the rules of a pagan religious ritual. Is someone on Sifnos reviving the old ways? Or is there a thrill killer loose on the island? Is the culprit a Greek national or one of the many foreign migrants crowding its refugee camps?
Says the author, “When I first visited Sifnos years ago, I was struck by the almost ethereal beauty of the island, the purity of its whitewashed villages and the lives of its residents, whose days were taken up with family and the rituals of the Orthodox Church. Sadly Sifnos, like the rest of Greece, is no longer the utopia I remember and has entered the modern age with all its attendant problems. I wrote From the Devil’s Farm in part to explore the dichotomy between the two—the idyllic past and the island’s troubled and uncertain future.”
Leta Serafim is also the author of the historical novel, To Look on Death No More. She has visited over twenty-five islands in Greece and continues to divide her time between Boston and Greece. Click here to find her online.
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