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Behind Crime and Depravity: Moral Ambiguity and Social Constructions of Evil in Contemporary Greek Detective Fiction

Vassiliki Kaisidou

From Edgar Alan Poe’s 1841 “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and Sherlock Holmes adventures, to the “Golden Age” of American hard-boiled detection in the early 19th century and up to the subversive post-Cold War detective stories, crime and villains gained prominence through fictional accounts of transgressions. It is precisely this sort of evil that I want to address in this paper, focusing in the post-1974 Greek literary landscape, the time period which, as I will discuss shortly, saw the re-emergence of detective fiction and its booming since 1995. Despite its limited scholarship[1], the genre enjoys vast popularity among the Greek reading public[2] and has sparkled vivid critical debate[3]. Hence, the recent years were marked by a wide range of developments with important implications for the cultural esteem afforded to detective writing; these include special issues published in literary journals, the foundation of the Greek Club of Crime Writers (ELSAL) in 2010, the circulation of CLM, The Crimes and Letters Magazine in 2016, the rehabilitation of the founder of Greek detective fiction Yannis Maris[4], and the shortlisting of a crime novel for Αναγνώστης 2017 Novel Award for the first time[5].

It has been argued (and this paper very much relies on this assumption) that detective novels draw par excellence on the reservoir of evil to frame the social and/or political world it is produced in (i.e. corruption, ruthless corporations, organised crime, and any kind of sects or gangs)[6]. Yet, while this remark marks the point of departure for my argument, I wish to also call this assumption into question in the third case study I am looking at and to indicate that the understanding of how moral evil is articulated in detective fiction is far more complex and nuanced. I will argue that detective stories not only speak to cultural and political realities of contemporary Greece but they also unveil the vulnerability of distinctions between the criminal and non-criminal world, revisit pervasive evils of the past, and even undermine the quest for the truth itself. To illustrate my argument, I will look at three fairly different case studies; the crime short-stories Ελληνικά εγκλήματα, 3 [Greek Crimes, 3] (2009), Marlena Politopoulou’s historical detective novel Η μνήμη της πολαρόιντ [Polaroid Memory] (2009) and Vassilis Danellis’s “postmodern” roman noir Άνθρωπος στο τρένο [Man in the Train] (2016). What all three works have in common is the writers’ progressive stance on morality and evildoing as well as the upending of many of the formulaic conventions of the popular detection.

Notes on Taxonomy and a Brief Genealogy of Greek Detective Fiction. Detective fiction or simply “whodunit” is a subgenre of crime fiction and mystery fiction in which a (professional or amateur) detective sets out to investigate a crime or similar transgression[7]. Established in the 19th century English-speaking world with Edgar Alan Poe’s “tales of ratiocination”, detective fiction reached its apogee in the 1920s and 1930s through the pens and intellectual games of British authors, to include legendary Agatha Christie[8]. Interestingly, the equally popular American detective stories published at the same period steered away from traditional detection. Instead, they featured cynical investigators facing crude violence, injustice, and a legal system that is as corrupted as the organised crime itself[9]. Eminent authors of this hard-boiled school of whodunit, such as its founder, Raymond Chandler along with Dashiell Hammett, influenced heavily their European counterparts and successors (i.e. the French Jean-Patrick Manchette and Jean-Claude Izzo)―notably, in the ways in which detective writing can act as a vehicle of critique to its social and cultural milieu. It is the so-called “Mediterranean Noir” (and specifically its Greek strand) I wish to centre on here and which currently undergoes its “Golden Age”[10] being in close engagement with politics, history, and the social malaises[11].

Turning to the realm of Greek detective fiction, it would be disingenuous to deny that its foundations in the local Greek market and publishing industries were laid through the imposition of a relatively hegemonic western culture; namely, the import of translations of (mainly Anglo-American) popular fiction in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which were widely circulated in cheap booklets and the popular press[12]. After a hiatus in the turbulent 1940s, the translations of whodunits and crime fiction flourished once again, underpinned by Yannis Maris’s emblematic novels. Yet, in the 1970s Greek popular writing declined, overshadowed as it was by a strong import of American hard-boiled fiction. It is then the 1980s, and even more so the 1990s, that mark a watershed for detective fiction. A new generation of writers emerges to problematise transgressive aspects of the social world (especially those harboured in urban settings), which had been relegated by the somehow de-politicised post-Metapolitefsi literary output[13]. The genre is no longer deemed the epitome of throwaway literature, but it has been often dubbed the new “social novel”[14], as it records social disintegration by merging ingenuity with the formulaic assumptions of classic whodunit[15]. Detective writing is therefore regarded not only as prescient of the current financial crisis but also as the most adequate genre to thematise the country’s predicament[16].

This very brief outline of detective fiction touched upon its generic permutations and exposure of the societal and political practices which define or instigate criminal behaviour. Taking this as a premise, the remainder of this paper is concerned with what is more to such constructions of social and moral evil(s) in a genre which is all but homogeneous. I want to dwell on moments when the boundaries between the law-abiding society and criminality are undermined, the moral implications of unsolved evildoings are re-evaluated, and undecidable testimonies hinder the solution of the mystery.

Greek Crimes 3: The Intersections of the Criminal and the Non-criminal Worlds. In the onset of the Greek crisis, Greek Crimes (2009) was published not so much to unravel complex puzzles, but rather to unmask the contradictions and social maladies of a seemingly “blissful” public life[17]. Yet, several of these short stories point to the limits of morality, underscoring how the criminal and the non-criminal world are essentially interweaved. In this section I will single out three of these short stories, which I consider particularly illuminating in exposing the crimogenic nature of capitalist society. Take for instance, Petros Markaris’s “Η δολοφονία ενός Αθάνατου” [The Murder of an Immortal], which showcases that the perpetrator is not the rotten apple that spoils the social barrel but society is profoundly pathogenic itself. The narrative is concerned with an official police detective who is trying to track down the murderer of a renowned writer, and it transpired that both were nominated at the same time to enter academia; hence, this rivalry was the motive of the murder. In doing so, it seeks to draw attention to the immoral cultural sector and lack of meritocracy in the job market. The final scene, wherein the author maintains some sympathy for the perpetrator, encapsulates a degenerate social framework within which professional success is attained through connections, nepotism or ingratiation. As the culprit argues, “όποιος δοκιμάζει σ’ αυτό τον τόπο να πετύχει κάτι χωρίς μέσα και διασυνδέσεις είναι ένας εν δυνάμει δολοφόνος”[18], implying that structural inequalities in the social sphere nurture potential criminals.

From a vantage point akin to Markaris’s one, Andreas Apostolidis and Tefkros Michailidis set out to document the deep-seated causes of organised and corporate crime, respectively. Apostolidis’s short story “Η ανεμόσκαλα” [The Rescue Ladder] revolves around two convicts’ second escape from Korydallos prison through the very same method, a helicopter. Yet it also navigates the dark faces of underworld, such as the Greek godfathers, drug traffickers, and various less than savoury characters. The author paints a grim (but also ludicrous) picture of a thoroughly corrupted legal system, within which dishonest attorneys whitewash their clients’ illegal activities devising a plethora of incredible alibis―for instance, a rogue lawyer attributes his client’s addiction to heroine to visual hallucinations of the devil[19]. Accordingly, Apostolidis exposes the entanglement of the higher and lower police ranks in mafia-led scandals and lampoons their avarice. The closure of the narrative does not establish order but leaves the escapees free and the police force disappointed, not for failing to hunt them down, but for not making a profit out of the lucrative business of organised crime, a much-needed boost “in times of crisis”[20]. Thereby, the narrative powerfully illustrates the institutional evil which cares little to prevent lawlessness and thrives under a guise of legality.

Michailidis’s “Αίμα με άρωμα μαστίχα” [Blood with masticha flavour], features the only female detective, Olga, amongst the case studies I examine here, without, however, going to great lengths to gender her feminine[21]. The short story deals with corporate crime as this unexpectedly unfolds in the insular society of Chios; a student who has come up with a cheap seawater desalination plant is murdered by the employee of a major desalination company, for his “alternative” project jeopardises the national-scale business deal that is under negotiation with the Greek government. What striking in Michailidis’s narrative is not only the way in which he touches upon the repercussions of a globalised economy on a marginal locality, but yet again its ironic ending. This resonates with Apostolidis’s closure inasmuch it illustrates the authors’ preoccupation with the remits of the law and (inter)national institutions as sources of legitimisation and instigation of criminal behaviour. The evil-doer may well be punished, however, moral order is not restored, for media discourse conceals his identity (in the name of political and financial benefits), defining him as a trafficker. Ultimately, it is “corporate evil” that prevails with Water Supplies Limited reaching an agreement with the Greek government. As a daily newspaper reads: «“Δεν υπάρχει φτηνή αφαλάτωση”, τόνισε ο υπουργός περιβάλλοντος… “εδώ που έφτασαν τα πράγματα η συμφωνία με την Water Supplies Limited ήταν μονόδρομος. […] [E]ίναι ένας οικονομικά εύρωστος διεθνής οργανισμός που δεν έχει καμιά σχέση με κυβερνήσεις και πολιτική”». «Η Όλγα [the police detective] κάθισε σε ένα παγκάκι, έχωσε το κεφάλι της μέσα στην κουκούλα του μπουφάν της κι έμεινε ανέκφραστη να κοιτάει το άπειρο»[22].

What underlies this bitterly ironic passage is Olga’s devastation, as she is overpowered by her failure to pursue the deep-rooted evil which resides in the non-criminal world. Even though none of the short stories discussed above undermine the moral rectitude of the fictional sleuths, what is particularly interesting for my purposesis the subversion of their investigative abilities in face of the network of deceit and illegality ingrained in social and state apparatuses―especially those above suspicion. 

Polaroid Memory: The Challenges of Reconciling with Evils of the Past.In what follows, I will look at Marlena Politopoulou’s historical detective novel[23]Polaroid Memory. I aim to map out the trans-historical and trans-national dimensions of an unsolved crime, the investigation of which triggers recollections and reassessments of troubled pasts. Politopoulou’s gripping narrative features the somewhat unconventional unauthorised detective Pavlos[24], who in 2006 sets out to solve a gruesome murder harking back to the years of the Civil War (1946) and which he unearthed from his father’s archive of unsolved cases. This raises intriguing questions about what spurred Pavlos to dig into old wounds and transgressions hailing from the 1940s. As the following lines illustrate, his engagement with silenced evils stems from a profoundly personal need to comprehend, do justice to, and reconcile with a familial and a collective past: “στα σαράντα πέντε προσπαθούμε να αποδώσουμεδικαιοσύνη στους γεννήτορες”, “Προσπαθώ να καταλάβω πώς σκεφτόταν ο πατέρας. Αυτή η υπόθεση […] πίστεψα πως θα μου αποκαλύψει τις γκρίζες περιοχές του νου και της ψυχής του”, “Σκαλίζω παλιές πληγές… Nόμιζα πως δεν θα πονούν πια […] όλοι τα ξέραμε αλλά δεν είχαμε βάλει το μαχαίρι στο κόκαλο. Τώρα ήρθε η ώρα των εγγονιών να τους κρίνουν. Ίσως καταφέρουν να απονείμουν αυτά δικαιοσύνη […] Να κλείσουν οι πληγές”[25].

For the well-defined community of suspects who were gathered for Christmas dinner on the night of the murder (in 1976), it was a crime of revenge caused by unhealed traumas etched in their memory since the civil unrest. This is evoked in Pavlos’s words that “όσοι ασχολούμαστε με το έγκλημα γνωρίζουμε ότι για πολλούς φόνους φταίει το γεγονός ότι κάποιοι δεν μπόρεσαν να ξεχάσουν”[26]. The renewed investigation of the case in the 2000s (re)activates precisely those harrowing memories, while being also a means of discharging their haunting power and settling old accounts[27]. Delineating the far-reaching consequences of civil war violence in the public sphere, Politopoulou plays with the multitemporality of evil whose echoes resonate throughout decades (from 1946 and 1976, to 2006), and thus, can be especially useful to rethink the present. It is in this context that the ordeals and destitution suffered by the civilian population (predominately children and women) in war-ravaged Greece of the 1940s is inventively juxtaposed with the victims of exploitation and internecine conflicts in contemporary developing countries[28].

Both the trans-historical and trans-national qualities of evil, deepen the investigator’s understanding of criminal behaviour and articulate an ethics of destabilising dichotomies between villains and victims in the hope of furthering the process of reconciliation and healing; which is precisely the central point I’m gesturing to here. Although striving to solve the mystery, Pavlos does not aspire to bring the perpetrator to justice but to answer vexed questions and do retroactive justice (see above quotation) to a circle of suspects who can be equally considered innocent or guilty, for they are all involved in a dense grid of transgressions during the long 1940s. As Iro (police psychologist and member of Pavlos’s team) puts it, “ήταν όλοι με κάποιο τρόπο θύματα. Τελικά, κάποιος-κάποιοι πέρασαν από την άλλη πλευρά κι έγιναν θύτες”[29]. Iro’s words are suggestive of a vicious struggle that spawned pervasive hatred and as many victims as perpetrators (blurring the binaries amongst them). For instance, two of the suspects were planning to kill the victim in the night of the crime but each for their own reasons eventually didn’t, whilst two of them were physically involved in the massacre (one in murdering the victim and another in torturing its corpse). Viewed through this angle, Polaroid Memory resonates with and extends the strategies of Greek Crimes, 3 in opting for a moral ambiguity and undermining sharply the traditional detection. The former becomes particularly tangible in the scene of the reenactment of the night of the murder, when all characters (victims and culprits) engage in a “collective confession”, and not interrogation, aiming to re-evaluate the past and move forward[30]. Much as seeking to expose the guilty part preoccupies Pavlos, he often has to resort to conjectural assumptions (rather than actual observation) and due to lack of adequate clues, he compromises with a part of the truth remaining unknowable.

Man in the Train: No Importance in Seeking the Culprit? If Polaroid Memory hints to the indeterminacy of truth through unreliable reconstructions of the past, then Vassilis Danellis’s weaves his narrative on this very premise. Diametrically opposed to the classic whodunit (to an extend that its classification as a detective novel proves highly problematic), Man in the Train negotiates the undecidable conflicts in testimony and the concomitant moral ambiguity involved in following the thread of an investigation. The novel broaches the puzzling death of two men in a train station; the first falls mysteriously from the bay and at his sight the second man suffers a heart attack and dies a few days later―a cunning narrative trick, so that he can never disclose the truth to the reader. Then, a solitary journalist interviews the five witnesses of this odd incident intending to publish an article that will shed some light to it and unmask the evildoer (if any). Yet, he ends up terribly frustrated, as the bystanders’ testimonies do not allow sound conclusions but rather resemble arbitrary interpretations or conjectural narratives. Their stories punctuate the contingency of truth and the importance of multiple perspectives, as displayed in phrases, wherein they declare not having a complete picture of the events: “αυτός ο άνθρωπος ήταν επικίνδυνος. […] Επιτρέψτε μου να σας πω μια υποθετική ιστορία για να σας αποδείξω ότι έχω δίκιο”, “[δ]εν υποστηρίζω, υποθέτω. […] Δεν είμαι σε θέση να γνωρίζω τι συνέβη”[31]. The witnesses essentially provide him with alternative (often conflicting or revised) scenarios on “what could have happened” and “who could the potential culprit be”. To mention but a few examples that put forth this ambiguous morality, one witness argues that the first man was a victim of suicide, a second that he was an accident-prone person who simply slipped because he was inattentive, a third one maintains that both men were equally responsible for the fall, while a fourth speculates that the second man is guilty of causing the first to fall (by pushing him).

What is of particular interest in those counterfactual testimonies is that they expound on inconsequential details highly coloured by the narrators’ personal experiences; hence, the novel underplays the pursuit of “evil” to lay stress on the small struggles given on a daily basis (the communicational chasm, solitariness, disrupted relationships). Most notably, the five creative story-tellers challenge the investigative authority of the journalist, and the investigation is conducted collectively. Unexpectedly enough, his failure to solve the mystery and piece together the witnesses’ narratives is not devastating; this effectively gives the investigator an understanding of the multiplicity of truth[32] and prompts him to become a writer himself, fictionalising the alternative scenarios behind this bizarre death. Verging on a post-modern approach to detective writing, Danellis goes deliberately against the grain; the anonymity of the characters and the vagueness permeating Man in the Train differentiate it from the historically framed works discussed above, as well as from the bulk of detective stories published nowadays. Furthermore, its open-ended plot, the lengthy existential and extraneous digressions, together with the author’s blatant indifference to build customary suspense suggest an extreme deviation from the formulas expected in the (more or less) popular genre. What emerges from the above is that by rendering evil and criminal behaviour irrelevant on the grounds of the unknowability of truth, Danellis seems to be exploring the limits and challenging the conventions of the genre of detective fiction.

Conclusion.“In this so chaotic time of ours, there is something that has humbly maintained the classic virtues: the crime story. And this is because a crime story without a beginning, a middle, and an end is inconceivable”[33]. This was Jorge Luis Borges’s view in 1978 quite surprisingly cited by Marlena Politopoulou in her essay on detective fiction that thematises the Greek crisis[34]. However, it will have become evident by now that contemporary whodunits, although inspired from specific social and cultural realities, all too often fail to restore harmony and may even bring about chaos and uncertainty (as we have seen in Danellis’s novel). In exploring three substantially different case studies, I sought to show how each in their own way blurs the lines between innocence and culpability and sabotages certain strategies of the orthodox whodunit (i.e. the detective’s investigative abilities together with the subsequent logical reasoning and detailed observation). 

In closing, I wish to address three key challenges that the Greek detective fiction faces in the present. First comes the reduced engagement of the reader in unravelling the mystery “before the fictional sleuth does”. Although effectively handled by some authors (Markaris, Politopoulou, Michailidis) and somewhat counterbalanced by others with a heightened political sensitivity, it remains a weak spot in contemporary detective stories. Secondly, there is an absence of alternative detection, namely the use of a culturally non-conforming character in the position of the detective, which could subvert the normative role of the white, heterosexual male investigator[35]. Thirdly, the constructed hierarchies, which distinguish between the high and low in culture, are currently reiterated by several crime writers and literary critics[36]. Aspiring to become canonical and highbrow, many authors speak condescendingly of popular crime or detective fiction, somewhat unmindful of the popular agendas that defined the origins of the genre they themselves represent. And yet, what should be emphasised is that, be it popular or canonised, detective fiction provides an imaginative bulwark about assumptions of evil and criminality in the real world; hence its pervasive currency from its emergence to the present day.

Vassiliki Kaisidou is a PhD Candidate in Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham.

[1] Initially, the revival of detective novel went largely unnoticed. For instance, Dimitris Tziovas, in his 2004 article on post-1974 developments in Greek fiction makes no reference to the ten-year long presence of detective stories. See, “Centrifugal Topographies, Cultural Allegories and Metafictional Strategies in Greek Fiction since 1974”, in: P. Mackridge & E. Yannakakis (eds), From Local History to the Global Individual Contemporary Greek Fiction in a United Europe. Oxford: European Humanities Research Centre, University of Oxford 2004, 24-49, 24-26. Some recent studies on the genre include: S. Myroyannis, Από τις ιστορίες μυστηρίου στην αστυνομική πλοκή: Αναζητώντας την εμφάνιση ενός αινιγματικού είδους στον ελληνικό 19ο αιώνα. Athens: Alexanreia 2012; V. Chourdaki, ...κάπου, ανάμεσα στο κάπνισμα και στα σταυρόλεξα: Ο δημοσιογράφος-ερευνητής στο σύγχρονο αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα. Athens: Ekdoseis I. Sideris 2016; and N. Filippaios, “The Beginnings of Crime Fiction in Greece: From the Late 19th Century to the 1940s”, 2017, (accessed: 21/05/2017).

[2] M. Politopoulou, “When the Crisis Wears Noir”, V. Danellis, “Literature as a Reflection of Its Time”, in: E. Giannakaki & N. Lemos (eds), Critical Times, Critical Thoughts: Contemporary Greek Writers Discuss Facts and Fiction. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2015, 160-173: 162-163 and 174-187: 181.

[3] See the relevant special issues in journal Διαβάζω 459 (Τα σύγχρονα ρεύματα στην αστυνομική λογοτεχνία), 2006 and Διαβάζω 498 (Αφιέρωμα στο αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα), 2009; also T. Henri, “Το αστυνομικό μυθιστόρημα στην Ελλάδα”, μτφ. N. Kouletaki, 29/12/2014,αστυνομικο-μυθιστορημα/το-αστυνομικό-μυθιστόρημα-στην-ελλάδ/ (accessed: 23/05/2017).

[4] Yannis Maris’s birthname was Yannis Tsirimokos. See A. Kakouri & K. Th. Kalfopoulos (eds), Η επιστροφή του αστυνόμου Μπέκα: Ο ήρωας του Γιάννη Μαρή σε νέες περιπέτειες. Athens: Kastaniotis 2012; and K. Th. Kalfopoulos (ed.), 18 κείμενα για το Γιάννη Μαρή: Ο άνθρωπος, το έργο, η εποχή. Athens: Patakis 2016.

[5] D. Mamaloukas, Ο κρυφός πυρήνας των Ερυθρών Ταξιαρχών. Athens: Kedros 2016.

[6] M. Politopoulou, “When the Crisis Wears Noir”, 168.

[7] With respect to issues of definition and classification, see R. W. Winks (ed.), Detective Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall 1980; O. Penzler, “Anatomy of a Mystery”, Publishers Weekly 252, 2005, 30-32; C. R. Nickerson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to American Crime Fiction. New York: Cambridge University Press 2010.

[8] Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh (who was a New Zealander), and Margery Allingham completed the quartet famed as the “Queens of Crime”. On twentieth century British whodunit, see C. J. Rzepka, Detective Fiction. Cambridge: Polity 2005, 137-175.

[9] On the hard-boiled or “tough-guy” detective fiction, see C. J. Rzepka, Detective Fiction, 179-217 and E. von Mueller, “The Police Procedural in Literature and on Television”, in: C. R. Nickerson (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to American Crime Fiction, 96-109, 96-97.

[10] G. Pelekanos, “Να νιώθω τη βρωμιά στα δάχτυλά μου…”, Διαβάζω 459, 124-125, 124.

[11] The most influential writers of the intensively politicised (and often Left-leaning) “Mediterranean Noir” are Andrea Camilleri, Petros Markaris, Manuel Vazquez Montalban, Jean-Bernard Pouy, and Patrique Renal.

[12] N. Filippaios, “The Beginnings of Crime Fiction in Greece: From the Late 19th Century to the 1940s”.

[13] V. Danellis, “Literature as a Reflection of Its Time”; and Y. N. Perantonakis, “The Crime Novel: From Natural to Social Perpetrator”, in: E. Giannakaki & N. Lemos (eds), Critical Times, Critical Thoughts, 188-203. Intriguingly, however, as Filippaios (op. cit.) perceptively argues, this went in tandem with the establishment of Bell Publications (the Greek branch of the Canadian Harlequin Enterprises), which brought together the gritty realism and sexuality of crime fiction with erotic literature.

[14] F. Filippou, “Crime Fiction During the Crisis”, in: E. Giannakaki & N. Lemos (eds), Critical Times, Critical Thoughts, 144-159, 158; also, P. Markaris, “Αστυνομικό: το σημερινό κοινωνικό μυθιστόρημα”, Διαβάζω 459, 116-117.

[15] The “puzzle element”, which mobilises the deductive abilities of the reader and their “desire to invent and detect” is amongst the generic clichés often relegated in favour of a more politically charged whodunit. F. Filippou, “Crime Fiction During the Crisis”, 152-153. On the puzzle element see C. J. Rzepka, Detective Fiction, 12-15.

[16] E. Giannakaki & N. Lemos (eds), Critical Times, Critical Thoughts, 155-156, 160-173, 177-186. This is, of course, debatable as poetry has also fervently claimed this role recently. See K. V. Dyck, Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry. London: Penguin Books 2016.

[17] Cf. the blurb of A. Chrysostomidis (ed.), Ελληνικά εγκλήματα, 3: Δεκατρείς αστυνομικές ιστορίες. Athens: Kastaniotis 2009.

[18] A. Chrysostomidis, Ελληνικά εγκλήματα, 3, 265.

[19] A. Chrysostomidis, Ελληνικά εγκλήματα, 3, 131.

[20] A. Chrysostomidis, Ελληνικά εγκλήματα, 3, 135.

[21] The glaring absence of female detectives in the Greek whodunit has important implications for the perpetuation the dominant position of male fictional sleuths in detective writing and has not been touched upon in current discussions on this topic.

[22] A. Chrysostomidis, Ελληνικά εγκλήματα, 3, 361.

[23] Historical whodunit is a subgenre of detective fiction, set in a historical framework remote from the author’s perspective. The plot circles around a major character investigating a crime either at a synchronic level or digging into an older case retrospectively. Contemporary Greek historical whodunit comprises several works unfolding in a time period considered “historical”; cf. for instance, T. Michailidis, Πυθαγόρεια εγκλήματα. Athens: Polis 2006; and T. Michailidis Σφαιρικά κάτοπτρα, επίπεδοι φόνοι. Athens: Polis 2016. Nevertheless, the character of the “detective-as-historian” features also prominently. N. Davvetas, Λευκή πετσέτα στο ρινγκ. Athens: Kedros 2006; N. Davvetas, Ο ζωγράφος του Μπελογιάννη. Athens: Metaichmio 2013; and A. Gkoltsos, Αφιέρωση. Athens: Metaichmio 2016 are good cases in point.

[24] Architect and cartoonist, Pavlos is not a professional sleuth, but the son of a police detective. Yet, during the investigation he seeks the off-the-records assistance of official police officers.

[25] Emphases added. M. Politopoulou, Η μνήμη της πολαρόιντ. Athens: Metaichmio 2009, 26, 278 and 232.

[26] M. Politopoulou, Η μνήμη της πολαρόιντ, 42.

[27] Cf. “Η σύντομη παρουσία του [Παύλου] στο Πήλιο ήταν αρκετή για να κινητοποιήσει την ανάγκη των ανθρώπων για ξεκαθάρισμα παλιών λογαριασμών”. M. Politopoulou, Η μνήμη της πολαρόιντ, 76.

[28] M. Politopoulou, Η μνήμη της πολαρόιντ, 257-259.

[29]M. Politopoulou, Η μνήμη της πολαρόιντ, 346.

[30] Cf. “Μόνο η παλαβή ανάγκη να δούμε άλλη μια φορά, σε διαφορετικές συντεταγμένες, τη ζωή τη δική μας και των φίλων μας μας έφερε ως εδώ”. M. Politopoulou, Η μνήμη της πολαρόιντ, 320.

[31] V. Danellis, Άνθρωπος στο τρένο. Athens: Kastaniotis 2016, 70 and 86.

[32] Cf. “Αυτοί οι άνθρωποι καταθέτουν πέντε διαφορετικές αλήθειες, όλες το ίδιο πραγματικές”. V. Danellis, Άνθρωπος στο τρένο, 83.

[33] My translation. J. L. Borges, “Jorge Luis Borges: El cuento policial” (originally published in: 16/07/1979), “Borges todo el año”, 09/05/2015, (accessed: 22/05/2017).

[34] M. Politopoulou, “When the Crisis Wears Noir”, 163.

[35] Such alternative “sub-genres” defying traditional assumptions on gender, race, and nationality have been developed by American authors since the 1960s and can be roughly divided into three categories: ethnic/ post-colonial, African American, and feminist/ gay/ lesbian. See C. J. Rzepka, Detective Fiction, 235-236.

[36] Andreas Apostolidis, for instance, claims that any kind of crime writing is not necessarily literature. See A. Apostolidis, “Συνέντευξη στον Γιάννη Ν. Μπασκόζο”, Διαβάζω 498, 134-135, 134. Cf. also F. Filippou, “Οι αλλαγές στην αστυνομική λογοτεχνία”, Διαβάζω 459, 110-115, 115.