‘The Black Monastery’ is the second novel that I’ve read by Stav Sherez and once again I have been completely absorbed by his writing even if the story, at times, has been very disturbing.
Jason has just completed his first novel and is desperate to have the famous novelist Kitty Carson review it. When he hears that she is taking a break (from her writing and her husband) on the Greek island of Palassos, he decides to go there and engineer a meeting.
But Palassos, like most Greek islands, is not the peaceful getaway that it once was. Most of the tourists these days seem only to be interested in excessive drinking, drug taking and dancing. Jason and Kitty find themselves united in their avoidance of the majority of tourists.
There have been a number of recent murders on Palassos and these are being investigated by police chief Nikos Yannopoulis. Nikos and his wife have recently returned to Palassos for the final years before Nikos retires. But Nikos is very disturbed by the gruesome murders which bear a striking resemblance to some murders carried out in the mid 1970s when Nikos first joined the police. Those murders were blamed on a cult, the members of which later committed suicide.
Kitty and Jason, through their writers’ curiosity, get involved and form an unlikely alliance with Nikos.
The story was full of gruesome and bizarre events and I will have trouble going anywhere near a centipede for quite a while. Nikos eventually starts to unravel the case but only through digging into a past that he would rather have left buried.
The island plays an important part in the story with its monastic ruins and labyrinth at its centre and the constant wariness between the native islanders and the tourists casting a shadow over the story.
I found this book less disturbing than Stav Sherez’s first book – ‘The Devil’s Playground’, but still very dark. His writing is excellent and his plots and characters go beyond most crime novels. I’m looking forward to reading his third novel – ‘A Dark Redemption’.
Book Published 2009