Koutsakis, Pol, “Baby Blue”, (Stratos Gazis Series), translated by Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife, Bitter Lemon, 2018.
What the Blind See
Stratos Gazis says that he is not hates a hit man. He would rather be known as a conscientious fixer. People are willing to pay handsomely to get “things fixed”. This noir story is about blue-eyed orphan Emma, a teenaged beauty “with a talent for card tricks of exceptional sophistication” Emma has been blind since she was 18 years old and she and her adoptive father, a former investigative reporter live in Athens where they earn money by performing Chaplinesque sketches. When the ex-journalist is brutally murdered, Angelino, a well-connected Athenian underworld figure, takes Emma in and hires Stratos to find her father’s killers. At the same time, Costas Dragas, a top homicide cop and Gazis’s best friend, has taken on investigating the murders of pedophiles and has gone to war with the media. The two cases intersect and very powerful corporate interests are behind the murders. As we read we are taken into the “underbelly of the media, politics, the justice system and financial interests and we learn just how dangerously interconnected these areas of contemporary life are.
Stratos is not sure whether this job is for him, but something about Emma makes him accept it. that forces him to accept. This is also sociopolitical novel that chastises faces, facts and situations. Koutsakis has a sarcastic and cynical sense of humor and does not hesitate to use it on what needs to be fixed in society.
While this is a crime novel, it is also a study of Greek society. The crime scene is a social critique of Greek police, the judiciary and the political system in an explicit and allegorical way. Athens, has been hurting her citizens who have hurt her— people trapped in labels and identities and stereotypes, who do not understand their share of state responsibility and eventually will pay for this. Koutsakis connects the places and the senses as he describes the feelings of his characters. To tell you anymore would ruin the read and so I will stop here but first I must recommend this exciting story that is sure to become part of modern European literature.