Murder in Mykonos is the first in Jeffrey Siger’s police procedural series featuring Andreas Kaldis, a homicide investigator in Greece. There are already eight in the series, which means there are several more to look forward to reading. Andreas Kaldis has just been “promoted” to Chief of Police of Mykonos, the famous tourist destination island in the Cyclades Islands. He is unhappy about being pushed out of Homicide to babysit tourists, recognizing that his promotion was a way to cut short investigations that were drawing too close to those in power.
Tourism is everything in Mykonos and crimes are carefully swept under the rug. It is a shock when a body of a tourist is discovered. So when he finds that a serial killer has been operating with impunity for the last eighteen years or more, the investigation threatens the entire industry of the island. Working with the Chief Homicide Investigator for the Cyclades, a jovial older man who knew Kaldis’ father, he bargains with the mayor, agreeing to investigate quietly for the moment, assuming there would be an interval between the recent murder and another.
Meanwhile, Annika Vanden Haag is licking her wounds after discovering her boyfriend cheating on her. She is heading to Mykonos for some sun, sea, and restoration. We readers know that she is heading for more than that as she perfectly fits the profile of the serial killer’s victims.
Murder in Mykonos is a successful procedural. It is scrupulously fair in giving us just enough information to create a cluster of suspects fit for the Orient Express. I appreciate that Annika is not merely a victim, but a smart, resourceful and determined woman who will not surrender meekly to her fate. I also like the interplay of politics and policing, the annoying, but realistic back-scratching and wheel-greasing that is so much a part of bureaucracy. The somewhat unsatisfying resolution seems more realistic and honest than the usual fare in procedural novels.
I do not like the “inside the killer’s head” perspective that gives us insight into his motives, but recognize that has become pretty common in these kinds of stories. I would rather not know. There’s a voyeurism and prurience in that element of serial killer hunts that creeps me out, but just about every single book with a serial killer in it includes the killer’s perspective. Siger does not dwell, so it’s tolerable.
Siger does a good job of bringing Mykonos to life. The sense of place is extraordinary. He is less successful with character development, leaving most of them rather two-dimensional. However, given that it is a series, the development of the main characters over the course of a series can become caricature if they are too fully realized at the outset. As each story in the series moves forward, we should come to know the characters more deeply and it makes sense to hold back from the beginning. Otherwise you end up with Kinsey Millhone cutting her damn hair with a nail scissors and scrunching up her wash-and-wear LDB into her purse in every book until the moment the reader comes across those nail scissors one time too many and the book flies across the room and the writer is consigned to the dustbin forever.
Murder in Mykonos succeeds at what it sets out to do, introduce a new procedural series, present a fair and complex investigation, and entertain. I look forward to the rest of the series.