Books and Good Reading
Michael J Bird's book is a modern classic. A Cretan tale par-excellence.  A rich and vivid painting of the Cretan Vendetta.  An old one still remembered;  a new one sworn against a British hero of the second world war, returning to Crete 35 years later in search of a new life after the loss of his wife and business.  Alan Haldane unwittingly re-enters a story of deceit, jealousy, and hatred - intermingled with the discovery of a daughter he did not know about, her husband and their son. Of his love for them. A discovery that by a hideous twist of fate leads inadvertently to their deaths in his place..   To Haldane claiming his own right of vengeance against those responsible.  The right of the vendetta.  The right to take the lives of those responsible in retribution, to pass them to the ever waiting Charon...

Title: WHO PAYS THE FERRYMAN? Author: Michael J Bird.
Publisher: Efstathiadis Group. Athens, Greece. ISBN 960-226-564-7 (Paperback). Price: Est 2000 Euros.                                     
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Those of us of a certain age will surely remember the evocative tune and the television serial of the same name. It was certainly responsible for an unprecedented surge in tourism in the eastern end of Crete – to Elounda and the Agios Nikolaos area in particular. Perhaps fewer of us will remember the actual story. It is certainly worth catching up on after all these years!

At a low ebb in his life, Alan Haldane returns to Crete after an absence of thirty five years. He had fought alongside the partisans during the war, and had been something of a hero. He had fallen in love with Melina, a local girl, but once he returned to England he had somehow lost contact with her.

He re-establishes links with former resistance colleagues, and learns to his sorrow that Melina has died – but that she had borne him a daughter, Elena. Elena, however, has always believed that her father was the man her mother married. Haldane meets Elena and her family and is tempted to intervene in their lives to give them a better future. He also meets the lovely Annika, and their attraction is instant and mutual, but learns to his dismay that Annika is his former lover’s younger sister.

This is Crete - memories are long and forgiveness is sometimes long in coming. There is a reason why Melina and Alan lost touch so long ago – her mother had discovered the lovers’ relationship and intercepted any letters. She learns of Alan’s return, and of his new interest in her other daughter. She vows she will prevent any further shame falling onto her family. She declares a vendetta, and recruits as an ally a man who has his own reasons for hating Alan Haldane.

Tragedy inevitably follows and Charon, the ferryman of the gods, has several trips across the river Styx before the final notes of the familiar tune die away into the darkening sky.

Ann Lysney.