One Last Chance

Book 12 coming April 5, 2022!

Set upon the mountainous rugged Greek island of Ikaria, against its storied past of exploitation, exiles, and lives spent in hiding from conquerors, slavers, and pirates, and current worldwide reputation for the longevity of its people.

Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis’s longtime assistant, Maggie, returns to her ancestral home on Ikaria for her 104-year-old grandmother’s funeral, her grief quickly turns to suspicion. Not only had her yaya been in good health just a week before her death, but there are bruises on her arm that suggest a botched IV insertion that no one can explain. While chatting with the savanotria who prepared Yaya’s body for burial, Maggie learns that several other long-lived Ikariots had recently died under the same questionable circumstances.

Back in Athens, Andreas and his chief detective Yianni pursue a smuggling and protection ring embedded in the Greek DEA, and its possible involvement in the assassination of an undercover cop. As leads in the elder-killings on Ikaria and the DEA corruption case converge, Andreas and his crew realize there are international intrigues at play that might well stretch beyond the reach of the law. While they race to prevent yet another untimely death, Maggie’s faith in humanity, the church, and the very legal system she serves is tested in ways she never could have imagined. Can her boss’s Hail Mary pass at securing justice for the victims hope to hit its mark?

Excerpt

Magdalena Zaoutis knew every pebble, rut, root, and pothole on the mountain path from her ancestral cottage down to the local spring. She made the trek every day, whether she needed water or not. She’d been doing it for more than a hundred years, first with her mother when she was four, later with her own children, grandchildren, and their children and grandchildren. She saw no reason to stop now.

Many of her family members had moved to the Greek mainland, other islands, or foreign countries to escape the harsh subsistence common on the northern Aegean island of Ikaria. But making a life away from this place, now known to the world as “the island where people forget to die,” came at a price, and Magdalena wore black as a sign of her continual mourning for the husband, four children, and three grandchildren who’d passed away while she lived on.

Longevity was the great blessing—or curse—of a life lived on Ikaria. The average lifespan for men and women extended ten years longer than elsewhere in Greece, and one in three residents made it into their nineties. Living past one hundred was not uncommon, and those who made it to centenarian status enjoyed a special camaraderie forged through a shared century of maintaining the traditions and observances of their uniquely rigorous island way of life.

Magdalena was cheery by nature, not one to dwell on unhappy thoughts, but today she felt particularly sad. The hardest deaths for her to endure, other than those among her family, were of childhood mates who’d also made it to the century mark, or close to it. In each passing she saw a bit of her own past die with them. Their deaths were to be expected, of course, but over the past weeks, so many of her friends from other parts of the island, indeed some of the healthiest, had passed on within days of each other. She wished there were no more funerals to attend, except perhaps for her own.

No, not yet.

She’d survived the pandemics of 1918–1920 and 2020–2022. It was not yet her time.

She heard the somber tolling of the church bells echoing up from the village through the craggy rock and pine tree ravine running by her stone home. In spring, this deep, narrow gorge carried rushing water from the mountain that loomed above her cottage. But for now it brought news of life events for those who understood the cadence of the bells. Today they spoke of another soul leaving Magdalena’s world. Who? she wondered. Surely she would know the deceased, or at least someone in the family. She knew all the families, except of course for the newcomers, but few of them stayed past summer.

One of her grandchildren would tell her who had passed on, along with other news from the island grapevine. She no longer walked to town to keep up with the gossip. They wouldn’t allow her to make the journey. If they could, they’d have stopped her from making her daily trip to the spring.

She smiled, then sighed. I know it’s because they care about me. But I can’t stop now. I have more to do.

***

© Jeffrey Siger

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Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis Mysteries