Stratos Gazis hates being called a hit man. What he is, is a conscientious fixer. He fixes problems that few can fix. Things that people are willing to pay handsomely to get done provided he concludes the targets deserve their fate.
The story centers around the blue-eyed orphan Emma, the "baby blue" of the title, a beautiful teenage girl with a talent for card tricks of exceptional sophistication - all the more impressive for her tender years and the blindness that has afflicted her since the age of eight. Emma and her adoptive father, a former investigative journalist, roam the streets of Athens together, earning enough to keep body and soul together by performing Chaplinesque sketches.
When the ex-journalist is brutally murdered, Angelino, a well-connected Athenian underworld figure, takes the girl under his wing and retains the services of Stratos to find her father's killers. Meanwhile, Costas Dragas, a top homicide cop and Gazis's best friend, has taken on the investigation of a spate of murders of pedophiles, and as usual, has gone to war with the media. It slowly emerges that their cases intersect and that corporate interests, more powerful than they could ever have imagined, lie behind the murders they both need to solve.
Through a combination of experience and the ability to read the ailing city, its residents and its streets with consummate skill, the case is solved, but not without some subliminal tutoring from a great classic of the cinema.
About the Author
Pol Koutsakis, born in Crete in 1974, writes novels, plays and screenplays. Baby Blue is his second novel to be translated into English and follows on from the success of Athenian Blues, published by Bitter Lemon Press in 2017.
"This is a tasty gulp-down thriller where there are more plot-twists than courses in a hot and spicy Greek meze." --CrimeTime
"Equal parts intense action, clever detection, and a compelling survival story." --Booklist
"Koutsakis makes his English-language debut with an intriguing crime novel. American film noir shaped Stratos's view of life, and Koutsakis effectively translates that half-lit, morally ambiguous milieu to seedy modern-day Athens. Noir fans will look forward to the next installment." --Publishers Weekly
"With a narrator on the wrong side of the law who admires film noir, this dark novel will attract fans of international crime fiction with an edge. Admirers of Lawrence Block's Hit Man series may also want to try this book about a killer with a conscience." --Library Journal
"It's hard to resist this hero, a freelance killer who describes himself as "a kind of social worker, except I get properly paid." -- --Kirkus
The streets of Athens prove as mean as those of Raymond Chandler's L.A. in Koutsakis's brilliant second noir featuring Stratos Gazis...While the plotting matches James Ellroy's best work, Koutsakis does a better job of making the twists flow organically from the characters. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Like Jeff Lindsay's Dexter Morgan and Andrew Vachss' Burke, Athenian "problem solver" Stratos Gazis kills only those he feels deserve execution. An absorbing entry in this must-read hard-boiled series, which offers thoughtful characterization and a noir take on Athens' postcrisis underbelly. BOOKLIST