DEATH OF A BRIDE – Book Review
Recently I was greeted by author Luke Christodoulou and asked to read and review his latest Greek Island Mystery #3. A murder mystery. I agreed to do so. Here’s my review.
Cassandra Zampetaki is at her family’s mansion in Gavdos, Greek Islands. She’s getting married tomorrow. She’s keeping her last name at her mother’s insistence. She has long copper hair. Her engagement ring from Homer is a five generation hand me down that she is proud to wear. Her wedding dress, a silk, white Valentino. She tries it on again as a storm blows in outside over the ocean. Someone comes up behind her and stabs her in the back, then in the throat. Cassandra falls dead. The storm blows like a hurricane outside.
Three weeks ago: Tracy and Costa are just waking up. They’re married. Costa is off to work. Gaby was their child. She died when they lived in New York. They moved to Greece after the death.
Ioli is Costa’s partner and friend. Both Homicide cops. Ioli’s parents, Giannis and Anna. Both look old for their age. Ioli is 35 and lives alone in Athens.
Gianni and Anna Cara are arriving by Minoan Cruise ship. Gavdos is only reachable by boat. Homer and Tracy meet them at the ship terminal and drive home in his old truck.
Home sweet home, the two story farm house. One hundred year old, 19th century, 20 bedroom house with pool house. Massive dining hall for parties. Thick, colorful carpets. Granite staircase. 1940’s style bedrooms. Tall beds. Two massive generators due to only recently getting electricity to the island. Still frequent power outages on the small island.
Mark is the best man, a surgeon. More family arrives by ferryboat. The Cara Family plus two arrives to the Zampetaki mansion.
The day before the wedding; That evening in the dining hall, a huge dinner and party after. Dancing. Greek style. That night Cassandra is murdered.
The next morning Aunt Myrrine and the bride are missing(Cassandra). Katerina discovers Cassie’ stabbed body. She calls Christina, “The bride is dead!” she screams in the pool house.
In the crowded breakfast room, Christina tells everyone, “Miss Cassandra is dead in the pool house!” Everyone rushes to the pool house. Next to the body in the massive blood a note. “I am not your Aunt Myrrine. My name is Maria Marousaki. Wife of Ioanni Marousaki. I have done my duty. I can now die in peace!” The killer cut off the ring finger.
Captain Papacosta of the Hellenic Police is investigating the murder. No one believes the note was written by the old lady. Someone else is the murderer and an accomplice and still on the island.
Irene tells the police captain the history of their family. The story of Katerina Mamalaki and Theodore Zampetaki in 1909, in Chania, Crete. Katerina was to be married to Christo Marousaki. Katerina stood Christo up at the alter and eloped with Theodore. They lived in a remote sea village. Had twins, boy and girl. There’s been bad blood between the two families ever since. Revenge is a strong motive. Hatrid.
Cassandra’s dead corpse remained in the pool house during the investigation. Behind locked doors. The storm also continued to rage.
Irene Zampetaki and Cosma refurbished the entire house. Her favorite room is her bathroom where she bathes. While taking a bath, Irene poisoned herself with overdoses of her own prescription medication. She committed Suicide. Just before dinner. Mark sees something suspicious. He thinks she was murdered.
Years ago; Achilles lives in Athens. Agatha lives nearby. The meet.
Present day; The relentless storm knocked out the power—Again. The generators are powered up. Irene stated, “During an Olympic flight years ago from Greece to London, the plane crashed. Our daughter was on that plane. She was killed.”
Costa Zampetaki finds a paper note on his bathroom mirror. “…Back off. Let us all leave the island and classify Irene’s death as a suicide and Cassandra’s as murder from Maria Marousaki.”
Costa and Ioli devise a plan to trick the killer. The killer is after Tracy. There are less than 50 houses on the small island. They will search for Tracy. They inform Anna, Ioli’s mother, that Tracy woke ill and began their search.
Cassandra recently made out a new will that now makes Homer the benefactor. He will receive a large amount of money. Drafted just days ago to any future children but until then, Homer is the heir, her dad.
Cassie’s mother had transferred all her money to her daughter. Now it was willed to Cassie’ dad. 800,000 Euros. Homer claims he just found out from his lawyers.
Alexandra and Homer had a brief romance. The last two years. Cassie knew about it. This causes friction between Cassie and her dad. Both carry enormous student debt due to their love for degrees.
Years ago; Achilles and Agatha are at the Mercedes Club. Agatha is a student. They say their first I love you’s. They go to Agatha’s place. It’s her first time with a man. They plan a getaway.
Sometime later; Achilles and Agatha are vacationing on the island of Naxos. Achilles’ relatives have a cabin there. A run down cabin. Badly. As she complains about how rundown the cabin is, Achilles punches her. An act of revenge begins. He hits her again. She falls to the floor. Achilles opens a trap door to a secret cellar that was built under the cabin. He kicked her down the stairs cracking a rib as she tumbled down the twelve stairs crashing onto the cement floor below. “Welcome to hell, whore!” Agatha was in pain; trembling in complete darkness.
Present day; Tracy was hidden in the underground storm sewer system behind the shed. She was drugged outside her room in the house, abducted, and placed there, unconscious. The sewer is filling with water due to the storm.
Years ago, in the cabin on Naxos, Achilles’ father, his brother, Valentino and his two sons. And Achilles. Five men. The youngest fifteen. They gang raped poor Agatha in the cellar in a filthy porn scene. They video recorded the rape. They plan to keep her for three days and continue the gang raping for revenge. She has no idea what she did to them. These scenes are pure porn?
Present day; Captain Costa finds another note from the killer…If you continue, FORGET your precious TRACY! She will be returned to you in pieces! Each time you try to find me she will suffer… The killer tries to fool Costa by sending Cassie’s finger and saying it’s Tracy’s. Ioli isn’t fooled. They make a new plan. Gather everyone in the dining hall and really interrogate. Ioli brings her gun.
Years ago; The fourth day of Agatha’s raping. The men made a porn video of her. It was all for revenge. Sent to her parents. Revenge against Agatha’s father. They released her. If she talks about the ordeal, the porn video will be made public. She sails to Athens. Then flies home to her parents. Crete in Chania.
Present day; Under interrogation, Kallisto tells Costa where Tracy is hidden. In the storm sewer. Tracy is rescued and safely with Mark. Kallisto is arrested for the murder of Cassandra Zampetaki. Agatha is there.
Years ago; Agatha returns home to the mansion. Cassandra is 10 years old. In the study, behind locked doors, Agatha explains the video to Costa and Mrs. Zampetaki(Irene), her parents. She explains she was Raped by Ioannis Marousaki’s sons and grandsons. “Dad it’s all your fault!… your family’s stupid vendetta…raped again and again and again.”
Then Agatha turns on her dad. “How could you believe such a video? Dad, it’s me!”
Irene wants Agatha to leave and go to America to save the family from shame. And change her name. No longer be a Zampetaki. Save her social life. The family will pronounce her dead in time.
Agatha agrees to leave. She’s 18 years old. Dead to everyone who ever knew her to save the family from shame.
Cassandra is just like Irene. She told Agatha to stay away from her wedding. She’d ruin it.
Agatha killed all five of her rapists. She burnt them alive, following in the footsteps of her arsonists ancestor. They were on a hunting trip in the mountains in a small cabin. She burned the cabin, killing them all.
Agatha killed Irene. Force feeding her pills in the bathtub.
Ioli arrests Agatha Zampetaki. Agatha attacks with a knife and Ioli shoots her, killing her. The remaining family left the island that day never to return.
Later, Costa is diagnosed with gastric cancer. Follows with chemotherophy.
Mark and Ioli become engaged. They marry later that year in August on the island of Santorini. Costa walks her down the aisle and gives her away. In a small wedding. Thirty guests.
DEATH OF A BRIDE by author Luke Christodoulou is the third Greek Island Mystery. Luke contacted me via Facebook and asked me to read and review his book.
The way Achilles and Agatha are introduced and weaved into the story is vague. One could easily get lost with that plot line.
My biggest complaint with this book is the revenge chapter. When Agatha is being gang raped in the cabin on Naxos by Achilles and his family, the author chose to be so descriptive of the four day event that he wrote pure porn. For me, some things are just as effective left at least partially to the reader’s imagination. A gang rape scene stretching over four days fits that criteria. I could have easily imagined what was happening to poor Agatha without having it so… detailed.
The author chose to add a final chapter when the book was already finished. Costa being diagnosed with stomach cancer and chemotherapy. Mark and Ioli’s engagement and wedding that summer (August) on the Island of Santorini. Fine except that we didn’t find out what happened with poor Costa’s cancer except that he was becoming a frail, thin, man walking with a cane. And we didn’t get to attend the wedding.
Sounds like it storms and rains an awful lot in the Greek Aisles. Knocking out power. If there is power? The family vendetta’s in this novel are so powerful they’re worth gang raping and killing for. For Irene and Cosma Zampetaki, their standings in the community are above all else.
Overall I found Luke’s novel to be an interesting read. I wish him success with it and all his work.
My rating: 4 stars
May good fortune guide your path.