Synopses & Reviews
At an archeological dig on the idyllic Greek Island of Chios, a severed hand is found lying in a blood-filled trench. Could it belong to Eleni Argentis, a beautiful archeologist who is also the wealthy daughter of a local ship owner? She and her young assistant, Petros, are both missing. The chief officer of the local police force, Yiannis Patronas, suspects that Eleni and Petros happened upon something of real value. However, his search turns up nothing but handfuls of broken clay, and then, another body--that of Petros, whose throat has been brutally cut. Body parts belonging to Eleni are left behind on a remote beach, confirming her demise. Then an old priest with a fondness for TV detective shows is attacked and left for dead. The dig site is located near the monastery where he was the only resident. Patronas interviews Petros' longsuffering grandmother, his flighty mother and her money-grubbing boyfriend, as well as Eleni's greedy stepmother and her charming son. He also confronts two archeologists, one British and one American .... If Eleni's find is, as they insist, worthless, what are these men doing on Chios? Although Patronas has little experience with homicide, he is determined to conquer the evil that threatens this formerly peaceful island. The Devil Takes Half is Book 1 in the Greek Islands Mystery series.
"The beautiful but ominous setting of this impressive debut, a series opener, overcomes its occasional carelessness. The discovery of a severed hand lying in a pool of blood brings Yiannis Patronas, the chief police officer on the island of Chios, to an archeological dig near a remote and almost deserted monastery. After a young worker at the site gets his throat cut, more violent assaults follow. The ensuing police procedural is improvised and uncertain because Yiannis is a troubled, bumbling hero who has had no experience with murder cases or sadistic criminals. He's also burdened with incompetent subordinates, and his only real assistant is an elderly priest who's watched too many American detective TV shows. Serafim has a good eye for people and places, and sheds light on the centuries of violent passion that have created an oppressive atmosphere hanging over the sunny Greek landscape."
--Publishers Weekly, June 23, 2014
"The Greeks have a word for it, and in this fast-paced, delightful mystery, that word is murder. A cop with a nagging wife and an old priest with an addiction to American TV are spurred to investigate the homicide of a beautiful anthropologist who may have dug up more than shards of an ancient urn. The real buried treasure is pure pleasure in Serafim's debut novel."
--Mary Daheim, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Alpine and Bed and Breakfast mystery series
(Starred Review) "One of Greece's most far-flung islands, Chios, has struggled through the centuries with Turkish invasions and natural disasters. In short, it is a potential treasure trove for archaeologists, and there are rumors of great riches to be found. One such archaeologist, Eleni Argentis, has been working for the past two years in the shadow of a remote monastery administered by an old priest, Papa Michalis. When Eleni's assistant, teenager Petros, is found bludgeoned to death on the site, and random body parts belonging to Eleni are also discovered, police officer Yiannis Patronas is brought in to investigate. The suspect list is diverse: Eleni's former lover; a competing professor; Petros's mother and her boyfriend; and Eleni's greedy stepmother all make the short list. Patronas and Michalis latch on to this academic puzzle with a vengeance. At times dealing with horrific violence, Patronas's dedication to his people and his country's heritage is heroic. VERDICT: Serafim's dense prose is perfect for lovers of literary and scholarly mysteries. Her plotting is methodical and traditional, with subtle nods to Sherlock Holmes, Greek mythology, and historical events."
--Library Journal, July 1, 2014
A beautiful archeologist and daughter of a local ship owner is found dead at a dig on the Greek Island of Chios. After the body of her young assistant is also discovered, the chief officer of the local police force, Yiannis Patronas, suspects that the pair turned up something of real value, all evidence to the contrary, and sets out to conquer the evil threatening his formerly peaceful island.