A Deadly Twist
Book 11 coming April 6th!
Some crimes can never be forgiven—or atoned for.
When Athens journalist Nikoletta Elia disappears while on assignment on the island of Naxos, her editor calls on Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis to investigate. Sent to report on the conflict between preservationists and advocates for expanded tourism, Nikoletta is approached by a fan who takes credit for several suspicious deaths she’d reported on in the past. The assassin claims to have abandoned that life, and convinces the reporter to write about him and his murderous exploits for hire.
Kaldis sends his deputy, Yianni, to look into her disappearance when an unidentified body is found at the base of a cliff. Who is the mysterious corpse, and where is Nikoletta? Leads turn into more dead bodies in this twisting tale of greed, corruption, and murder that puts Kaldis, his family, and members of his team in the path of a ruthless killer who will stop at nothing to keep dark secrets buried—forever.
“The key to getting away with what I do is lacking any possible motive. Motive’s the first thing cops look for. Which is why I’ve never taken a job that could tie me to a target, no matter how tenuous the link or big the payday. I’m a conservative businessman, and if my work has taught me anything, it’s that fast money comes with excessive risk. It’s the gradual accumulation of wealth that makes a person secure in old age, and that’s what I’m aiming for.”
Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis sat in his office in Greece’s Central Police Headquarters in Athens (better known as GADA) reading and rereading a front-page newspaper article that opened with that paragraph.
A reporter named Nikoletta Elia claimed to have landed an exclusive interview with “the computer underground’s most successful hacker” while on holiday on the Greek island of Naxos. Andreas took it to be a made-up story, likely pieced together by a seriously hungover reporter following an all-night booze session with some braggart trying to impress his bar mates with tales of international intrigue.
Strangers admit to weird things late at night in island bars, but this confession made no sense. It was inconceivable to Andreas that a “conservative” computer hacker who wanted to make it to “old age” would be stupid enough to open up about his business to anyone, let alone a reporter, about how he used his elite hacking skills on behalf of clients to ravage businesses, steal state secrets, and mask murders behind accidental equipment malfunctions.
Nor do the phones.
He waited for Maggie to answer.
“It’s the managing editor of your favorite newspaper,” Maggie bellowed in from her desk outside Andreas’s open office door. “And he’s in his usual foul mood.”
“Great, just what I need to make my day.” Andreas picked up the phone. “Hi, Gio—”
“Kaldis, it’s Pappas here.”
Andreas wondered if Giorgos Pappas had purposely patterned his abrupt telephone style after the curmudgeonly stereotypes popularized in film and TV. Though it could be grating, Andreas viewed it as an act—like the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz— and liked the newspaperman.
“What a pleasant surprise, Giorgos. To what do I owe the honor of this call?”
“I need you to find my reporter.”
“I beg your pardon? What reporter?”
“Nikoletta Elia. She should have been in my office hours ago, but isn’t.”
Andreas wanted to ask Pappas if he’d been drinking but decided to play along for a bit longer. “Do you think something’s happened to her?”
“Of course I do. Otherwise why would I be calling you to find one of my reporters?”
“What do you think happened?”
“Damn it, man. If I knew, I wouldn’t be calling you.” Andreas counted to three.
“Giorgos. If you want my help, back off.” He paused for Pappas’s response. None came, so he continued. “Why do you think her being a few hours late for work involves something that would interest the police?”
“Five days ago, we published a story she wrote about a mysterious computer pro operating on the Dark Web. It sent cops all over Europe scouring through their closed files, looking for clues to who he might be.”
“Yes, I recognized her name. But what makes you think something’s happened to her?”
“We agreed that she’d stay on Naxos until today to finish up a story on the push to expand tourism there. When she didn’t show up in the office this morning, I tried calling her but my calls kept going into voicemail.” He paused. “So, I called her hotel to see if she’d left yet. I was told she’d not checked out, and when I asked to be put through to her room, again there was no answer. I convinced the manager to check if she was there. He said she wasn’t, but her things were.”
“Please excuse the indelicacy of this question, but perhaps she spent the night elsewhere?”
“I thought the same thing, but her mobile was next to her bed, and she’d never go anywhere without it.”
“I’d like to help you out, but frankly, this still doesn’t sound like a police matter.”
“I’m not done yet. I haven’t told you about the body?”
© Jeffrey Siger