I have read the 68th book for the book challenge. It was Prey On Patmos, An Aegean Prophecy: A Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Novel by Jeffrey Siger.
Andreas Kaldis, the Chief of Special Crimes Division for the GADA or Central Police in Greece, is called to the island of Patmos during Holy Week, the week before Easter, the holiest week in the Church calendar. There has been the murder of a prominent monk, Kaligeros Vassilis who lived at the monastery on Patmos. He was found early on Monday in the town with his throat cut. Andreas and Kouras fly to Patmos to investigate.
They meet with the abbot of the monastery. He shows them Vassilis’s room which has also been ransacked. His laptop computer has been stolen, along with his disks. Andreas buys a cheap cross like the one Vassilis died clutching and substitutes the one he bought for the one Vassilis had in the police station, in hopes of a clue. He takes it back to Athens and finds a USB drive hidden in the cross. His computer geek downloads two photographs from the USB drive and a list of names. The photos are the same except that one has some of the faces replaced with other faces.
Andreas and his girlfriend Lila are also preparing for the birth of their first child. Andreas is hesitant to marry Lila. He doesn’t want her to think he would be marrying her for her money, and he is worried that she would grow tired of him, that they would have little in common. Lila wants to marry Andreas.
Andreas, through intermediaries, is introduced to an important person on Mount Athos, a collection of twenty monasteries in a remote part of Greece. This person, the Protos, is worried about the rule of the Ecumenical Patriarch, who must now be educated in Turkish. He is worried that this post will be dissolved and the Russians will take over Mount Athos. Vassilis was also concerned. Andreas meets the Protos, and shows him the photos that Vassilis had with him. Vassilis was on his way to meet with the Protos. One of the photos, the original, shows the heads of the twenty monasteries at the installation of the Protos. The other shows the changes in the heads of the monasteries over time. There is fear that a man named Zacharias at one of the monasteries is orchestrating the take-over of the monasteries.
Andreas still must find the man or men who killed Vassilis. He hears rumors of three monks who have disappeared. He locates them on a farm on Patmos. He conducts a raid on the farm and captures the three “monks,” who are really agents of the monk Zacharias. Now to get Zacharias. He needs the help of the Russians.
There is a wealthy Russian named Vladimir on the island of Mykanos on Holy Saturday. He likes to party and likes beautiful women. Since Andreas has been officially taken off the case since Vassilis’s murder has been solved, Andreas and his wife’s friend Barbara plan a scheme to get him interested in Barbara but also to get him interested in the incidents on Mount Athos and in Zacharias. The plan works and Vladimir goes after Zacharias. He also goes after Barbara. But Barbara lets it slip that Vladimir was set up and Vladimir wants to kill Andreas.
Zacharias leaves Mount Athos. He is really a war crimes criminal, the butcher of the Balkans who was presumed dead in a car crash in Switzerland years ago. He has been living at Mount Athos waiting for his opportunity to cause chaos. He leaves to buy poison on a Greek island but the Russians are waiting for him. Vladimir is told that Zacharias has been captured and taken out of the picture. He is convinced that he shouldn’t have Andreas killed because he helped catch Zacharias. Andreas is a hero.
The Protos comes to Athens to see Andreas and Lila. He thanks Andreas for his help in protecting Mount Athos from Zacharias and from the Russians. He blesses Andreas and Lila. The Proto becomes Ecumenical Patriarch.
Lila gives birth to a baby boy. Andrea and Lila name him after Andreas’s father. Andreas asks Lila to marry him.
I really enjoy Jeffrey Siger’s series about Andreas Kaldis. I love the word pictures he paints of the Greek islands. I would love to go and see them for myself. They sound lovely. Andreas ceratinly has complicated puzzles to solve. This was one of them. The death of Vassilis was rather straight-forward, but the plot of Zacharias and the manipulation of the Russians and the need of the Greeks to control the Mount Athos monasteries was quite intricate. It was a bit confusing at times. I didn’t quite understand what Zacharias was going to do with the poison, but I guess it didn’t really matter as the Russians were after him for his war crimes and took him off to Russia anyway. He left the monastery after years there and went back out into society to wreak havoc again and the Russians captured him. That was exactly what Andreas hoped would happen, since he had officially been taken off the case. He often has to resort to “unofficial” avenues when his boss takes him off a case. I admire his resourcefulness.