The Patmos Deception, by Davis Bunn (Bethany House, 2014)
Priceless antiquities are disappearing, with no official acknowledgement of the crimes… because people in positions of power are involved in the scheme. At least that’s what journalist Nick Hennessy’s UN contact believes. Nick teams up with forensic archaeologist Carey Mathers to find the truth.
On the other side of the law, Patmos tour-boat operator Dimitri Rubinos finds himself forced to do as his ancestors have done in previous times of economic disaster: work for smugglers.
This is one of the most satisfying adventure novels I’ve read in a while, complete with intrigue, chases and danger. It’s also much more. The characters are richly layered, facing their individual struggles as well as the external one. Carey idolized Nick in her youth, but past experience has left her unwilling to risk loving this new, more mature, Nick.
For his part, Nick can’t let himself fall in love when he has to focus on the investigation. And Dimitri? He’s a heart-breaker who’s tired of “the life” and knows something’s missing inside. His grandmother says Carey will change his world. Does that mean she’s the one for him? Or will Carey’s vibrant faith help Dimitri find his answers?
The Patmos Deception evokes a strong sense of the Greek culture and mindset. I’ve never been to Greece, so I can’t prove it’s authentic, but it feels that way. As well as Dimitri, his father and grandmother, we meet Elini and her extended family, who “adopt” Carey at the beginning of the novel. They’re caring, protective and fierce people, culturally accustomed to hardship and resilient enough to not break. We also meet Greek villains and bullies, like we’d find in any ethnic group, but Elini’s and Dimitri’s people are a delight.
Carey’s a delight, too. Where Nick’s journalism has taught him to view everything as an observer, mentally framing how he’d write it, Carey lives with her eyes wide open, experiencing the moment.
And Dimitri? He’s a man of courage who’ll do whatever it takes. His “moonshine eyes” and charm make him a danger to women’s hearts, but maybe he can change – or be changed.
Nana Pat possessed a whole dictionary of sighs. She cold express anger or frustration or displeasure without speaking a word. She sighed now, and Carey realized the conversation was over. Nana Pat had run out of steam. [p. 27]
In Dimitri’s view, morning was the most beautiful time of day. The sunrise cast fresh promise in the golden light… Down below, the harbour remained cast in shadow and in the mystical wonder of hours not yet spent. [p. 38]
With each loss she seemed to shrink further, until she was reduced to the very essence of who she once had been. But she remained a woman of good cheer and unshakable faith. [p. 39, about Dimitri’s grandmother, Chara.]
This is one of those stories I kept wanting to go back to once it ended. On the bright side, the ending sets up a potential sequel…
The Patmos Deception is the latest novel from prolific and award-winning author Davis Bunn. For more about the author and his books, visit davisbunn.com, and if you’re curious which character in The Patmos Deception he identifies with most strongly, see this post on his blog. Note, the giveaway is over, but it’s an interesting insight into an author’s thoughts.