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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Zone Defence

Petros Markaris

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To purchase Zone Defence

Title: Zone Defence
Author: Petros Markaris
Genre: Novel
Written: 1998 (Eng. 2006)
Length: 464 pages
Original in: Greek
Availability: Zone Defence - UK
Une défense béton - France
Nachtfalter - Deutschland
  • Greek title: Άμυνα ζώνης
  • Translated by David Connolly

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Our Assessment:

B : enjoyable but long

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Economist . 16/12/2006 .
FAZ . 22/10/2001 Christina Zink
Neue Zürcher Zeitung . 20/10/2001 D.Tr.
Sunday Telegraph . 3/12/2006 Susanna Yager
The Times . 28/10/2006 Melissa Katsoulis
Die Zeit . 4/10/2001 Tobias Gohlis

  From the Reviews:
  • "He has a fine sense of humour, well served by Mr Markaris's translator, David Connolly, and a wry cynicism that evokes smiles rather than pity." - The Economist

  • "(E)ine verhaltene Studie eines Ermittlers und seiner Umgebung, die an den entscheidenden Stellen eher zum Retardieren neigt, als auf grelle Effekte zu setzen. (...) Mit Witz, Charme und Ironie erzählt Markaris eine reizvolle, geschickt verwobene Kriminalgeschichte mit überaus lebensnahen Figuren, und es ist das besondere Verdienst des Romans, daß eine glatte Zuordnung nach Gut und Böse hier nicht aufgeht" - Christina Zink, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

  • "A wild coincidence renders the plot somewhat implausible and it's Markaris's vibrant portrait of Athens that makes his novel so entertaining, bringing his home city to life in a way only an insider can achieve." - Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph

  • "As set pieces go, this is as Greek as it gets, and sets the tone for an intelligent, warm-hearted European thriller." - Melissa Katsoulis, The Times

  • "Markaris entwickelt die vertrackte Situation mit dem pointensicheren Charme des erfahrenen Drehbuchautors" - Tobias Gohlis, Die Zeit

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Athenian Inspector Costas Haritos goes on vacation, but can't escape his duties. An earthquake shakes things up -- and brings a corpse to the surface. Murdered several months earlier, the dead man turns out to be Christos Petroulias, a referee for third-league (minor local league) football (soccer) matches who also turns out to have been surprisingly well off.
       Back in Athens there's also a murder -- of Constantinous 'Dino' Coustas. He owned nightclubs and restaurants ... and, it turns out, he had considerable interest in third-league football clubs, controlling, directly or indirectly, several of them.
       Dino's family and some friends in high places are not very eagre to have the police look into his affairs too closely, but Haritos can't help himself. For one thing, the two deaths seem to be connected. And he keeps finding stuff which just doesn't add up. There's a fairly clever (if highly convoluted) game of money-laundering going on here, with shell companies (and shell-within-shell companies ...) and (ab)use and blackmail of a variety of people. But every layer Haritos peels back seems to reveal even more complications.
       Meanwhile, dictionary-loving Haritos also has domestic issues to deal with, as his wife is (rightly) concerned about his health and his daughter gets a new boyfriend. Central, also, is the city of Athens, and especially its overcrowded streets: Haritos seems to spend about half of this long book stuck in traffic or taking forever to get from A to B. A sanitation workers strike at least adds to the local colour (or smell), but slows things down even more.
       Άμυνα ζώνης is, occasionally, lumbering. Markaris proceeds step by step, and he doesn't seem to leave anything out: as Haritos gets set to get stuck in traffic once again that can get to be a bit much. But for the most part Haritos is an appealing companion, trying to keep his wife and his boss and his daughter (and then his doctor) happy while still getting the job done. The case is also a fairly interesting one, and it's enjoyable to follow Haritos slowly fitting the pieces into place.
       Solid, but a bit long.

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Zone Defence: Reviews: Petros Markaris: Other books by Petros Markaris under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Greek writer Petros Markaris (Πέτρος Μαρκάρης) was born in 1937.

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