The Black Life (Alex Mavros Series #6)

The Black Life (Alex Mavros Series #6)

by Paul Johnston
     
 

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The story is told in alternating chapters, a narrative set in the present day and also a first person harrowing account of the persecution of the Holocaust years. Whilst it is an indictment of the wartime collaboration and subsequent profiteering to which many countries turned a blind eye, and whilst it also underlines the extent of anti-Semitism still existing in

Overview

The story is told in alternating chapters, a narrative set in the present day and also a first person harrowing account of the persecution of the Holocaust years. Whilst it is an indictment of the wartime collaboration and subsequent profiteering to which many countries turned a blind eye, and whilst it also underlines the extent of anti-Semitism still existing in Greece and elsewhere today, the novel also contains accounts of working life in the concentration camps and how survival of some Jews might depend on their working for the SS and even sending one’s own family members to their deaths in the gas chambers.

This is the latest outing for half-Greek, half-Scottish Private Investigator, Alex Mavros – but this is really only a vehicle for the author’s most far-reaching and ambitious novel to date.

The gripping dual narrative that follows provides readers with a fresh perspective into what makes Greece – that most volatile and fascinating of countries - tick, as well as shocking new insights into the atrocities of the Second World War and into what makes a man into a killer without conscience and guilt. If readers think they know all there is to know about the Holocaust, they should read Paul Johnston’s The Black Life – and think again.

This is a harrowing read. The Black Life is the most moving work yet from an experienced, award-winning writer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
10/14/2013
Johnston probes Greek anti-Semitism, both during the Holocaust and afterward, in his standout sixth mystery featuring Athens PI Alex Mavros (after The Green Lady). Aron Samuel was believed to have died in Auschwitz with much of his family, but when someone claims to have spotted him alive and well in Thessaloniki, French jeweler Eliezer Samuel hires Mavros to find the truth. The present-day investigation alternates with a first-person narrative set during WWII, providing familiar, but nonetheless harrowing, accounts of the Nazi slaughter of Europe’s Jews. The detective’s inquiries don’t make things simpler for the surviving Samuels, or for Mavros himself, whose wife’s infertility has strained their marriage. The colorful lead, with his unusual heritage (his father was a leader of the Greek Communist party and his mother was Scottish) and dogged commitment to his work, is a worthy addition to the growing roster of contemporary Mediterranean sleuths. Agent: Broo Doherty, Wade and Doherty (U.K.). (Dec.)
Booklist
“A strong addition to the series.”
From the Publisher
“Standout sixth mystery featuring Athens PI Alex Mavros”
Publishers Weekly

“A strong addition to the series.”
Booklist

"This PI Mavros entry pulsates with suspense and a sensation of dread.  Consider this Balkan noir at its best"
Library Journal on The Black Life

Library Journal
12/01/2013
Already under siege from an earlier case that has left a known assassin at large, Greek/Scottish PI Alex Mavros has done everything possible to keep his loved ones safe, but it's a slippery slope at best. He's about to take a case involving an apparent sighting of Aron Samuel, an elderly Greek Sephardic Jew from Thessaloniki who was thought to have died in a World War II concentration camp. Hired by Aron's surviving younger brother, Alex is irritated by his client's daughter, Rachel, and her insistence on accompanying him to the Macedonian region in northern Greece. His wariness is justifiable; readers know that Rachel has a covert agenda of her own. Through flashback chapters set in the 1940s, readers understand the depth of hatred coursing through Aron Samuel's veins. As Alex's investigation heats up, it seems that Aron is very much alive and that he hasn't completed his life's work. VERDICT With its multiple points of view, this PI Mavros entry (after The Green Lady) pulsates with suspense and a sensation of dread as the PI fights both the Samuel family's demons and his own. Consider this Balkan noir at its best.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-02
Scots/Greek private eye Alex Mavros' sixth case sets him on the trail of an old man who's recently been spotted in Thessaloniki even though he died in Auschwitz. Jewelry king Eliezer Samuel thought he'd finished mourning his uncle over 60 years ago. So he's stunned when Ester Broudo tells Rabbi Savvas Rousso that she saw Aron Samuel outside a wedding. Though it defies belief that Aron could have survived and then hidden himself for all these years, Eliezer knows concentration camps' records are notoriously unreliable. So he asks Alex, a well-known missing persons specialist, to fly to Thessaloniki along with Eliezer's daughter, Rachel, to follow the trail of the apparition. Alex isn't crazy about working with Rachel, who seems to have her own agenda, or leaving behind his ladylove, social worker Niki Glezou, who's already distraught because she can't get pregnant. But the bills for the home he shares with Niki must be paid, so he takes the job, hoping that he can stay one step ahead of the Son, the killer who survived Alex's last case (The Green Lady, 2013) and swore vengeance. Unlike Alex, readers know from the beginning that Aron is indeed alive courtesy of alternating chapters told from his perspective that trace his story from World War II to the present. It's such a horrifying tale that the odds of Alex surviving his encounter with "the abyss of the twentieth century's greatest crime" unscathed seem negligible. Just as high a body count as Alex's last two cases, though the Holocaust back story sharpens this one to a knife point.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781780290485
Publisher:
Severn House Publishers
Publication date:
12/01/2013
Series:
Alex Mavros Series, #6
Edition description:
First World Publication
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

Mark Billingham
'Johnston is one of the best there is and THE BLACK LIFE is his finest novel yet'

Meet the Author

Born and brought up in Edinburgh, Paul Johnston studied ancient and modern Greek at Oxford and now divides his time between Scotland and Greece. As well as four previous Alex Mavros novels, he is the author of the award-winning Quint and Matt Wells crime series.

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