The Golden Silence
Republished by MIRA UK in April 2009.
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
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
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.