The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou is an outstanding crime novel. Although a sequel to “The Stoning”, it also functions effectively as a stand-alone novel. Whichever way you read it, this is a book with depth and nuance.
But first, a small warning: this novel contains significant spoilers for the plot of “The Stoning”, the first novel to feature George Manolis. That excellent novel was also reviewed for the Beauty and Lace book club, and you may wish to read it first. You won’t be disappointed.
In “The Invisible” police detective George Manolis is still coming to terms with some of the family secrets revealed as he investigated a crime in the small Australian town of Cobb. He is glad enough, after a traumatic workplace event in Melbourne, to be told to use his excess leave. He knows he needs the break, and following his father’s death, he feels the need to revisit the area of Greece they came from.
In Greece, George’s old friend Stavros asks him to help look into the disappearance of their mutual friend Lefty. Lefty is an invisible – a person who manages to live without any paperwork or official existence. The police aren’t too interested in looking for him.
George soon finds that Lefty is a divisive character, and that not everyone in the small village where he lives believes he’s actually missing.
The crime aspect of this novel is interesting. George can’t follow his usual investigative path, such as checking bank accounts, so he needs a different approach. This adds a unique tinge to the investigation for readers who are well-versed in the initial steps of any investigation. Being in Greece also adds an unpredictable and new element: it’s a different society, with different expectations and approaches.
There’s a lot of depth in Papathanasiou’s exploration of the isolated part of Greece where George finds himself. It’s a completely different society to ours, and the influences – cultural, community, and environmental – are wildly different. Papathanasiou builds his world with empathy and respect; although many would consider the area he’s describing backward, he never looks down on those he’s writing about.
A large part of the novel is about George himself: his mental and emotional healing, his re-evaluation of family history, and his sinking into a new community. Although this follows the common pattern of a police officer struggling with a complicated personal life, the complications are distinctive and more unique than in many other crime novels.
The revelations at the end of the novel bring a whole new level of nuance to the book. I sat for a while, reconsidering the entire plot and almost every scene in the book in light of my new knowledge. It’s both surprising and at the same time makes utter sense in the context of what’s gone before. It’s an unexpected end to a powerful novel. Not every reader is going to love it – it’s not the classic way to end a crime novel – but I found it entirely satisfying.
The flavor of this entire novel is a little different from many crime novels. For me, that was one of the strengths of the novel – the originality and depth that this generates. Those who enjoyed Papathanasiou’s debut, “The Stoning”, will also love this.
“The Invisible” is a highly memorable novel. I recommend it to those looking for something more than just a puzzle, although most crime readers should enjoy it.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Invisible by Peter Papathanasiou. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I love sharing that joy.
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, across all genres. There’s not much I won’t at least try. I’ve been an enthusiastic book reviewer for years. I particularly enjoy discovering writers new to me, and sharing good writing with others.
My career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really moves me. I’ve reviewed for a number of different outlets over the years, and have been a judge in literary competitions.
I’m now raising little bookworms of my own, which brings a whole new kind of joy to sharing books.
More of my reviews can be found on my review blog www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog .