The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou – review

An interesting mystery in a fabulously evocative setting.
Published by MacLehose Press

Burnt-out from policework, Detective Sergeant George Manolis flies from Australia to Greece for a holiday. Recently divorced and mourning the death of his father, who emigrated from the turbulent Prespes region which straddles the borders of Greece, Albania and North Macedonia, Manolis hopes to reconnect with his roots and heritage.

On arrival, Manolis learns of the disappearance of an ‘invisible’ – a local man who lives without a scrap of paperwork. The police and some locals believe the man’s disappearance was pre-planned, while others suspect foul play. Reluctantly, Manolis agrees to work undercover to find the invisible, and must navigate the complicated relationships of a tiny village where grudges run deep.

Publication date – 1 September 2022
The Invisible of the title is not just the missing man. It includes the illegal immigrants sneaking over the rocky border from the north. It’s the roaming travellers who make their home in the lakeside forests. It’s the people of the Prespes villages who feel that they are invisible to the rest of Greece.
I’ve not yet read The Stoning but I shall be going back and reading it whilst  I wait for the next in the series.
It soon becomes clear to Manolis that he may never locate a man who, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t exist. And with the clock ticking, the ghosts of the past continue to haunt the events of today as Manolis’s investigation leads him to uncover a dark and long-forgotten practice.
There are prejudices and secrets being kept in the hillside villages. A wariness of immigrants, of outsiders, the daily grind of making ends meet and long held grudges. Manolis has to face all of this as he strives to find out where Lefty may have gone. As he does so he begins to see that his friend may not have been as jovial and innocent as his demeanour suggested.
DS George Manolis is on a leave of absence after an incident at work in Australia leaves him needing a place to recover mentally. He decides to visit Greece, the homeland of his parents, hoping to find peace and perhaps learn more about his family. When he arrives in the rural Northern region of Prespes he finds that an old friend, Lefty, has disappeared. Lefty is an invisible, someone without papers or an official record. Manolis has to work out how to find someone who, according to the government, doesn’t actually exist.
Source – review copy
There’s a great sense of place in the novel. I looked up images of the Prespes area once I’d finished the book and those photographs matched the images I had created when reading the descriptions of the location. I could imagine myself in Greece, but in the Greece away from the beach bars and tavernas, a more remote location where tourists don’t often venture.
As the story progresses, Manolis discovers more about the history of the region, one his parents had not shared. He sees the hardships faced over the years including the Second World War and the Civil War that followed.