Author : Peter Papathanasiou
Title : The Invisible
Pages : 320
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : September 1, 2022
Source : Netgalley
| ABOUT THE BOOK |
Burnt-out from policework, Detective Sergeant George Manolis flies from Australia to Greece for a holiday. Recently divorced and mourning the death of his father, who emigrated from the turbulent Prespes region which straddles the borders of Greece, Albania and North Macedonia, Manolis hopes to reconnect with his roots and heritage.
On arrival, Manolis learns of the disappearance of an ‘invisible’—a local man who lives without a scrap of paperwork. The police and some locals believe the man’s disappearance was pre-planned, while others suspect foul play. Reluctantly, Manolis agrees to work undercover to find the invisible, and must navigate the complicated relationships of a tiny village where grudges run deep.
It soon becomes clear to Manolis that he may never locate a man who, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. And with the clock ticking, the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the events of today as Manolis’ investigation leads him to uncover a dark and long-forgotten practise.
| MY THOUGHTS |
I was incredibly impressed with this author’s debut ‘The Stoning‘ a while back and was really looking forward to more. It all started incredibly well, with the reintroduction of Sparrow which put a smile on my face, and an exciting raid. The latter unfortunately didn’t end so well and DS Manolis has been diagnosed with suffering from PTSD and has kindly been asked to take a long vacation. Manolis decides to go back to his roots, to the Prespes region in Greece, where his father emigrated from. Upon his arrival, he learns of the disappearance of a man known as Lefty. Lefty is what they call an invisible. Someone who lives without a shred of paperwork. And also someone who is of little interest to the local police. How do you even look for a man who doesn’t exist?
Well, apparently Manolis doesn’t know either and this is where I’m sad to say ‘The Invisible‘ started to lose me. It felt like I was on holiday myself. It’s all rather calm and laid-back. There’s a lot of food and drinking. What you’d maybe expect from a break in Greece. But that also means, a severe lack of tension and suspense that I so desperately need in my crime fiction.
Lefty’s disappearance seems extremely secondary in the storyline. It’s a mystery that needs solving but I almost completely forgot about it at some point as Manolis is far more interested in the lifestyle, his heritage and maybe possibly finding a trace of his aunt Poppy. That said, Papathanasiou really brings Greece to life with delightfully vivid descriptions of the landscape, the smells and the sounds.
Just like in ‘The Stoning‘, Papathanasiou lays bare some of the worst things humanity has to offer. Some of the topics make for uncomfortable reading, some are thought-provoking. There is more than one way to be invisible, after-all. While these villages may look all idyllic from the outside, they often hide secrets, feuds and conflicts. There is also a certain undeniable sense that this way of life is dying out. More than anything though, where are all the children?
I think I kind of understood what the author was trying to do, but I also feel the story became a little too bogged down by an abundance of historical information. This region of Greece is not a good place to be. It has a very turbulent history, there’s a lot of poverty and it’s geographical position makes it rather dangerous. This also lends itself to plenty of myths and legends, passed on from generation to generation. Or could there possibly be some tiny sliver of truth to these tales?
I find it hard to determine how I feel about ‘The Invisible‘. It was most definitely informative and educational. I feel I’ve learned a lot about the Prespes region and its people. However, I look for a bit more than that in my crime fiction. I didn’t find the story to be compelling, or tense, or thrilling. In an odd sort of way, it almost feels like an interlude of some sort. True, Manolis needed this break and maybe I would have felt differently if the mystery element had featured more. As it is though, I’ve been left somewhat underwhelmed. Still, based on ‘The Stoning‘, I’m giving Papathanasiou the benefit of the doubt and I’ll be right here for more of Manolis with the next book in the series.
The Invisible is available to buy! My thanks to the publisher for the review copy, which I received via Neutrally. All opinions are my own.