With his latest novel, Petros Markaris sheds light on the misery of Greek universities.
Here’s a thriller that won’t give you a headache. Subject, verb, complement… simple sentences, without lyrical flights or reflections on the fragility of the world. A cop who contrasts with the dark and tortured characters of classic thrillers, the antithesis of the “badass” dear to Hammett and Chandler. And a plot so simple that we blame ourselves, in the end, for not having hit it earlier. Nevertheless, all this produces a very pleasant reading moment.
With the Assassins’ Seminary, Greek author Petros Markaris immerses us in Athens, where three strange murders, targeting former university professors who have become ministers, disturb the very quiet daily life of Commissioner Charitos, just back from a peaceful stay in his native Epirus. A stay that allowed him to meet three retired women who have become the best friends of his wife Adriani. These holidays were followed by two very good news: his daughter Katérina is expecting a child, a boy who suddenly monopolizes Adriani’s attention, and above all he is finally promoted to acting director of his department. Suffice to say that he has no interest in botching the investigation into the three murders.
However, the case promises to be difficult. Very few witnesses, very vague claims… Commissioner Charitos flounders and finds his salvation in the stuffed vegetables that his wife concocts for him on lucky evenings. All the same, we are a bad language, this thriller is not as basic as it seems, Markaris distills some socio-political comments: it shows in particular the great misery of higher education in Greece, struck no only by the economic crisis but also by a moral crisis which pushes certain teachers to abandon their students to satisfy their political ambitions. Charitos is a good guy, deep down, and he’s sorry to see his country crumble like this.
For who loves Greece, and there are many in this period, the Assassins’ Seminary is a very pretty walk through the meanders of a tightrope country.