Stav Sherez

The Black Monastery

"Atmospheric, faultlessly written, perfectly paced and thought-provoking... this is a story of regret, secrets and revenge."


Nikos is a detective who has been sent back to his home, the picture postcard Greek Island of Palassos, while he winds down towards retirement. Soon after, he is faced with the gory murder of two young boys near the Black Monastery. The dead bodies are staged on an altar, innards removed and crawling with centipedes and Nikos is faced with a crime that happened in the exact same spot 33 years previously. Unwelcome memories surface of a mass cult suicide; a cult that was blamed for the murders, and subsequently the island's modern day economy which is based on the summer long invasion by young British holidaymakers is put at serious risk.

Kitty Carson is a best-selling crime writer and she has gone on holiday to the island to try and recover her love for her craft and escape from her troubled marriage. She is followed by a wannabe writer, Jason, who hopes to strike up a relationship with her in the hope she will help get him published. Another murder is committed and the body staged in exactly the same way as the other three. Jason and Kitty are drawn into the investigation and as they discover more about the island's dark past they find that some of the island's inhabitants are determined that their secrets should remain hidden...

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Are you planning on stretching out your pale limbs on the beach of a Greek island this Easter? If the answer is yes, then do yourself a favour and leave this book till you get home or you'll be packing a book-sized portion of delicious paranoia along with your flip-flops. Atmospheric, faultlessly written, perfectly paced and thought-provoking... this is a story of regret, secrets and revenge. The inhabitants of Palassos are baking under the hard Mediterranean sun and struggling under the weight of their secrets. Each character is three-dimensional. Prick them and they will bleed. Chief of police, Nikos is a man who pulls you along with him from the start as you sense his life is full of unresolved issues both in his work and in his marriage. His relationship with his wife is particularly telling and you can taste the loss they each experience within the marriage in each scene they appear together. The Black Monastery is a thriller of the highest quality. Stav Sherez's prose is at turns terse and lyrical and every word is in exactly the right place. I defy you not to feel disgust at the scene where the first murder victim is discovered or real panic where he describes the scene at an island festival. By way of a P.S. I'd also recommend that you have a look at Stav's blog where he described why he writes crime fiction- A fascinating, goose-bump inducing article, where life imitates art and where this particular writer does a fantastic job of selling himself.

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