A massacre at a Greek resort leads to an unlikely transatlantic partnership
On a long overdue vacation, Maj. Andreas Vassos takes his family from Athens to a resort village on the Grecian coast, hoping for sun, surf, and a few days without worry. It’s just the holiday he needs—until the family goes to get a treat and the crowded café is raked with gunfire. Acting on instinct, Vassos grabs a pistol from a murdered cop and chases after the killers. He’s able to take one down, but the other escapes. The hunt is on.
The deaths are tied to the search for a priceless Greek artifact. And finding the killers and saving the relic takes Vassos to New York City, where he forms a partnership with the NYPD’s Teddy Lucas, a Greek immigrant once known as Theodorous Loucopolous. They may not speak the same language, but cops are cops, and either of these men would lay down his life to save his brother in blue.
Caunitz did extremely well with two solid police procedurals, One Police Plaza and Suspects , but seems rather out of his depth in this tale of high-level international art smuggling machinations which involve a copy of Homer's Iliad that belonged to Alexander the Great. A planned assassination outside Athens that turns into a massacre and the simultaneous murder of a shady Greek dealer send Major Andreas Vassos of the Greek police off to New York to pursue leads that involve a brutal Irish gang and some smooth operators with ties to the State Department and the wartime OSS. Throw in a tough New York police lieutenant, a beautiful art historian and a villainous collector, and you have the makings for a fast-moving if sometimes hard-to-follow thriller. But there are two problems. One is that Caunitz has learned a great deal about classical antiquities that he is anxious to share with the reader, so that there are inappropriate chunks of learned exposition that drag heavily on the action; even the police procedural details, on which Caunitz is an expert, are poorly integrated. The other is that his writing is often lumpy, lame and crude. It's a book that simply tries to cover too much ground, and does not draw on the author's natural low-key, dogged strengths. 150,000 first printing; Literary Guild Main Selection.