Authors: Paul Johnston
Table of Contents
The Alex Mavros Series
DEEPER SHADE OF BLUE
(also known as
CRYING BLUE MURDER
THE LAST RED DEATH
THE GOLDEN SILENCE
THE SILVER STAIN *
THE GREEN LADY *
The Quint Dalrymple Series
THE BONE YARD
WATER OF DEATH
THE BLOOD TREE
THE HOUSE OF DUST
The Matt Wells Series
THE DEATH LIST
THE SOUL COLLECTOR
MAPS OF HELL
THE NAMELESS DEAD
* available from Severn House
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First published in Great Britain 2012 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS LTD of
9-15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey, England, SM1 1DF.
First published in the USA 2013 by
SEVERN HOUSE PUBLISHERS of
110 East 59th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022
eBook edition first published in 2013 by Severn House Digital
an imprint of Severn House Publishers Limited
Copyright Â© 2012 by Paul Johnston.
The right of Paul Johnston to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Johnston, Paul, 1957-
The green lady.
1. Mavros, Alex (Fictitious character)âFiction.
2. Private investigatorsâGreeceâFiction. 3. Missing
personsâInvestigationâGreeceâFiction. 4. Suspense
ISBN-13: 978-1-78010-353-2 (epub)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78029-034-8 (cased)
ISBN-13: 978-1-78029-534-3 (trade paper)
Except where actual historical events and characters are being described for the storyline of this novel, all situations in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to living persons is purely coincidental.
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I retain a modicum of Modern Greek vocabulary and grammar, so please take note of the following before complaining about poor proofreading:
he girl, fourteen and blonde, her slim form enveloped in a blue polo shirt and tight jeans, was in the middle of a meadow. May Day was warm and the flowers â crown daisies, gladioli, anemones and poppies â were bright and tall in the sea of grass. On the edge of the forest beyond, blossom shivered in the breeze, almond and the brighter pink of
, the Judas tree. In the distance she could hear the voices of her schoolmates, squealing and shrieking as they discussed boys and how much they hated their parents. She found them dull, not least because she loved her mother deeply.
The girl put the wreath of wild flowers she'd fashioned around her neck then sat down, her head beneath the level of the grass. No one could find her here, she was safe. If they came, she could crawl away and escape. The idea excited her, but there was her mother. She couldn't leave her to face her father. No, she had to go back.
She heard her name being called, first by the other girls and then by the woman who was in charge of the day out in the valley of Mount Elikonas. Her own mother had wanted to come, but her presence had been required at one of the numerous official functions she hated so much. The temptation to disappear overwhelmed the girl again; what would it be like to start her life again? What would it be like to mould your own future? No, she would wait until she'd taken all she could from her father; do as well as she could in her exams; go to university in England or America. She would never come back to Greece, the country where she'd lost everything before she had even begun to grow up.
She got to her feet and put her hand over her eyes as she scanned the meadow and its tree-lined edges. Where were they? The voices were fainter now. Was she going to have to run to catch them up? She started to push through the grass and flowers but found that, even though she was a decent sprinter in the school athletics team, she couldn't make much speed. She breathed in the mingled scents of spring, both from the wreath round her neck and from the still-living blooms among the grass. They were beautiful. Why couldn't she stay here forever?
And then a dark shape reared before her. She felt strong arms fold her up and carry her out of the meadow. She raised her eyes to the sky but she didn't scream. At that point, she didn't know that the gates of hell were opening to receive her.
hose money-grabbing sons and daughters of whores, they've sold the country down Excrement River in a trireme with holes in its hull, theâ'
Mavros grabbed the remote control and reduced the volume. Yiorgos Pandazopoulos, sixty-one and built like a sumo wrestler, glared at the TV and went on cursing as the opening ceremony of the 2004 Athens Olympics unfolded in all its kitschy glory.
âGive it a rest, Fat Man. Think of the tourist income the Games have brought.'
âWhat tourist income?' Yiorgos emptied a bottle of Amstel beer, the folds of flesh around his neck wobbling. âThe fools who've come for the Olympics are staying in hotels owned by multinational groups, drinking foreign fizzy drinks and eating American pizza. The ones who come to Greece for sun, sea and shagging are waiting till the fiasco's over. If anything, there'll be less tourist income this year than last.'
Mavros pointed to the flat boxes on the coffee table in front of them. One contained half of his four seasons pizza, but the Fat Man's peperoni deluxe was represented only by an oily red slick.
âWhat about those, Yiorgo? They came from a foreign franchise too. Plus the beer's brewed under licence from Holland.'
âPshaw! We've got to keep body and soul together somehow, Alex.'
In the interests of peace-keeping, Mavros refrained from pointing out that they could easily have eaten local food at the taverna down the road from his friend's flat. On the other hand, the opening ceremony would have been blasting out even louder there, and the idea of the Fat Man spouting bile at other diners wasn't palatable.
âLook at those self-satisfied tossers,' Yiorgos said, as the camera panned along the rows of VIPs â numerous presidents and prime ministers, Greek government representatives, the female mayor of Athens, and other figures less well known to the average viewer. The Fat Man, guardian of the ordinary citizen, as befitted a long-standing member of the Communist Party, knew them all, reeling off the names of members of the organizing committee and of the business leaders who had been involved in the construction of the stadia, access roads, new metro system and other facilities, a.k.a. white elephants. âLook at them!' he repeated. âSavoy Road suits for the kleptomaniacs and
for their poxy wives.'
âThat would be Savile Row,' Mavros put in. He decided against correcting his host's French pronunciation.
The Fat Man glowered, his default facial mode. In the past Mavros would have pressed the point, but now that he was spending most of his time in the two-level flat Yiorgos had inherited, he kept a brake on his tongue. That didn't save him.
âPiss off back to your mother's if you don't like how I talk, Mr Hoity-Toity.'
âMaybe I will.'
âGo on then,' the Fat Man said, seeing the open goal. âIt worked really well last time.'
Mavros sighed and took a swig of beer. He'd been living in his mother's spacious flat in up-market Kolonaki till early spring. Then she decided that she'd recovered sufficiently from her stroke and moved back from his sister Anna's place in the suburbs. He managed two weeks with her, but it didn't work â not least because she had a nurse in every day, who regarded him as the spawn of the devil because of his shoulder-length hair and decidedly non-designer stubble. She was also highly suspicious of his left eye, which was dark blue flecked with brown, and crossed herself frequently. Strange. The combination of his dark blue right eye with its non-identical twin usually captivated members of the other sex. Still, he couldn't have the frail Dorothy being disturbed by the often disturbing people who came asking for his services as a missing persons specialist.
âOr you could grovel to your ex-girlfriend and set yourself up in her place,' Yiorgos said, grinning.
Mavros grabbed a slice of pizza and bit into it. Andhroniki Glezou, known as Niki, hadn't just been his girlfriend. They'd loved each other for over five years and had been through some dangerous escapades together. But things had begun to change after a case in Crete the previous year. Niki had been in danger there, though she stood up to it well. As the months went by she became more needy, never having been hugely self-confident in the first place. She was an orphan and her adoptive parents were dead, leaving her the flat near the sea in Palaio Faliro. Inevitably, the ticking of her biological clock had got louder after she became thirty-five. They'd had several discussions about children. Mavros wasn't opposed to the idea, but he wasn't enthusiastic enough for Niki. One evening, her frustration hit Chernobyl levels and he found himself on the street with his clothes flapping down on to him from the balcony. He'd tried to speak to her on the phone often, but she hung up before he could say more than a couple of words. That had been two months ago and he'd heard from a mutual friend that Niki was dating like there was no tomorrow. That worried Mavros, but he didn't know what to do about it when she wouldn't take his calls.