Synopsis of the story
Two years after the death of his wife, Nicholas takes a holiday to the Greek island of Rhodes. He intends that the break will allow him to refocus his life. While there he takes a day trip to the tiny island of Halki. On the ferry he meets Alessandra - who plans to meet up with an old friend on Halki. She is an archaeological researcher at the museum on Rhodes. They talk, establish a strong chemistry and agree to meet up for the return journey later that day. Alessandra also offers to show Nicholas around the Old Town the following week.
She fails to make both the ferry return and their planned meeting at the museum. A puzzled and disappointed Nicholas returns to his life in the UK. A few months later he learns of Alessandra's disappearance on Rhodes. Local police report that they have no leads and are downgrading the investigation to that of a Missing Persons' case. He realises he was one of the last to have seen her and, after speaking to her parents in England, makes the decision to try to help find her. This decision is to shape and change his life in many ways.
His search takes him back to Rhodes, Halki and, finally, Symi. Nicholas discovers that Alessandra's disappearance may be linked to her passion for antiquities and that she was seeking to discover what happened to the most famous of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Colossus of Rhodes. Assisted by one of her friends, Effie, he traces the progress of Alessandra's investigation. On Halki he learns of the ferocious storms, called Meltemi, that are feared by sailors and which appear, seemingly from nowhere, in this corner of the Mediterranean.
Nicholas also finds out about Alessandra's turbulent former relationship with Andriy, a Russian academic who has an interest in the ancient trade routes in the Eastern Mediterranean and a ruthless businessman. His discovery leads him into the dangerous but highly profitable world of the criminal trade in looted antiquities. He is threatened twice and Effie is injured in a hit-and-run accident. During his journey Nicholas also embarks on a personal voyage of self-discovery.
The novel contrasts the picture-postcard experience of the holiday visitor to these beautiful islands, with a murky and darker reality of the organised looting and distribution of ancient cultural artifacts. Nicholas discovers that Alessandra has been kidnapped by a Mafia-style Russian criminal cartel, a major player in the criminal activity, run by Andriy. He traces the missing woman to a remote farmhouse on a small Greek island and sets out to rescue her.
The novel also charts Alessandra's own experience from her kidnapping on Halki to her removal to Symi, and her subsequent lengthy imprisonment. During this period brutal attempts are made to destroy her resolve and force her to show her captors where the ancient artifact lies by taking her on dives in dangerous waters around the island. Alessandra feels progressively that her strength and life are ebbing away.
Nicholas locates her but is captured and imprisoned with a weakened Alessandra. When they are rescued amid a shoot-out at the remote farmhouse, Nicholas pursues the fleeing Andriy and in a cliff-top struggle, both fall from the rocks. Nicholas is injured and Andriy dies.
The novel concludes with Alessandra and Nicholas hiring a boat to take them to an uninhabited island where Alessandra shows Nicholas what she had discovered. They both decide to leave the treasure where it has lain undisturbed for over a millennium. As they leave the temperature falls and the wind increases. Behind them dark sinister clouds swirl over the eerie mountainous outline of distant Halki signifying the start of a Meltemi storm.
A quick and easy read that I found myself picking up after a long day to unwind. The characters are beautifully written and I came to love them within the first few pages and was rooting for them all the way to the end. At times I wanted to stop reading because I just wanted the experience to go on for longer.
by NetGalley review
After his wife’s death, Nicholas has lost the energy to live and fallen into a dark hole. When he takes a holiday on the Greek Island of Rhodes, the incredible happens. He meets a woman who immediately sparks something in him. They are on the ferry to Halki and agree to meet in the afternoon before taking the ferry back to Rhodes. Yet, Alessandra does not show up. Nicholas is disappointed but apparently, she did not feel the same as he did during their brief encounter. Back in England, he goes on with his life when one evening, he sees a report about a young woman gone missing – Alessandra. Could he have been the last person to see her alive? He contacts the police and the parents before he resolves to return to Greece and to have a look himself since no one seems to be really preoccupied. He cannot simply do nothing when the one person who brought back his will to live has gone missing. It does not take long for him to be sure that there is much more behind Alessandra’s disappearance than just a woman who decided to start a new life and cut all former strings.
Robert Cole’s debut novel is a mixture of suspenseful crime and interesting dive into ancient history. Nicholas’ search for Alessandra is strongly linked to the past of the Greek islands, old trade routes between Europe and the Middle East as well as modern trade – which is rather of the illegal kind. Stolen goods of inestimable value, belonging to the world heritage which in the turmoil of wars fall into the hands of shady businessmen. Some of the history is well known, a lot was also new to me and I found it wonderfully integrated into the thrilling search for the young archaeologist.
Strongest is certainly the atmosphere of the islands which offer such a long and great history which finds its place in the novel. Even though Nicholas is a bit naive at times and irresponsible at others, I found this characters quite charming to follow. He cleverly understands the evidence and draws the right conclusions leading step by step him closer to Alessandra and some very dangerous dubious men.
Not an absolutely thrilling psychological mystery, but rather an entertaining, yet nevertheless enthralling, trip into history.
by NetGalley review
This one of the most stunning books I have read. The setting, the writing, and the characters, all amazing. A great mystery story that keeps you gripped till the last page.
by NetGalley review
This stunning debut novel by Robert Cole reads like a Graham Greene classic. It certainly have me as much pleasure to read.
The evocative atmosphere of the beautiful islands in the Dodecanese archipelago are a perfect backdrop to a thriller that allows the author to explore deeper issues. International politics, espionage, the looting of ancient artefacts all form part of the fabric of the novel.
The characters are drawn with honesty and integrity. The author's love of his subject matter permeates every single page.
by NetGalley review
I absolutely love the psychological thriller about a missing woman. It’s mostly a first person narrative about a man who meets a mysterious woman who disappears. The backdrop is the Mediterranean. I highly recommend this book I really enjoyed it.
by NetGalley review
Taking a sabbatical from work after the loss of his wife and child, and now on holiday in Rhodes, Nicholas decides to explore some of the surrounding islands. He starts by taking the ferry to the tiny island of Halki. On the same ferry is a lady called Alessandra who is also taking a trip to the island to catch up with her good friend. Nicolas and Alessandra meet and they find that they get on well together so they arrange to meet again on the return journey back to Rhodes. She is very knowledgeable about the history of the Dodecanese island group, the largest of which is Rhodes. Alessandra also offers to show Nicholas around the Old Town of Rhodes. She works at the museum on Rhodes and is a frequent visitor to several of the cluster of islands and is currently carrying out active on-site research there.
On the outgoing trip to Halki they find that they become fiends very easily. Alessandra has moved to Rhodes from her home in the UK and is fluent also in Greek. It will be nice for Nicholas to have a guide and some company. For the first time in a couple of years, Nicolas has something to look forward to. He looks out for Alessandra on the return ferry to Rhodes, but alas she is nowhere to be seen. He makes the rendezvous for the Old Town exploration but again she does not show up. He is so disappointed. Soon his holiday is over and he is on the plane back home to the UK.
After a good few months back at home he hears that Alessandra has been reported as missing. Could this be the reason for her being unable to make contact with him both in Halki and back in Rhodes? He feels compelled to return to Rhodes because, after all, the dates coincide with his holiday and he may even have been the person with the last sighting of her. Back in Rhodes once more, hoping he can move the police investigation on, he is shocked to learn the police have hit a brick wall and their investigation has been scaled down. This is when he makes the decision to initiate his own investigations and in so doing he puts himself in the spotlight of villains who threaten him in no uncertain terms that people will get hurt if he does not stop muddying the waters and stirring up trouble for these master criminals. He has no option but to book a flight home straight away. But will he be able to adhere to his word. Not a bit of it!
‘A Breeze Across the Aegean’ is Robert Cole’s exciting and assured debut novel. Here he has created a sizzling novel about organised crime, kidnapping and physical coercion. It is masterfully written and the storyboard is alive with action, thrill and spills and twists and turns. The settings are vividly lyrical and the characterisation well developed with diverse and interesting characters. I thought Nicholas was very brave and gentlemanly to come to the rescue of Alessandra, the stunningly attractive and friendly black haired historian. I thought the ending was excellent and nail-bitingly electrifying. I liked that some of the characters were unreliable participants, keeping secrets and not being what they wanted you to believe they were. This twist was totally unexpected but in the end it turned out to be discretionary and you could understand why.
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from publisher Troubador Publishing Ltd through my membership of NetGalley and I would like to thank them for my copy, sent out to me in return for an honest review. I really enjoyed this novel and award it a well-deserved 4.5*. I recommend it as a very good read and I shall look forward to a second novel from this author.
by NetGalley review
This is a nice mystery, with interesting characters and a rich background. I found the history the most engaging part.
Reeling from a tremendous loss our hero ventures out to new places and has a 'cute' meet with an interesting and attractive woman. But when she doesn't show for a later date, he moves on. When he discovers she has going missing, he decides to see if he can figure out what happened.
In the course of this, we learn some really fascinating things about early history.
We also learn about the business of history and how far some will go to assert their hold on it.
The romance is a little cloying, but I guess that is the price we pay for the other good writing.
It's a good story, some characters that are interesting and in a fantastic setting. I would hope this could be the start of a series.
by NetGalley review
Robert Cole has a Masters degree in clinical psychology, but has worked for most of his life in the corporate business world, both in the UK and overseas. He has had a successful career in Human Resources at global companies, including Shell, Pfizer, British Gas, Expedia and Serco. H e turned to writing in 2018, with A Breeze Across The Aegean his first book. He is currently working on his second novel set amongst the picturesque towns and villages of the Languedoc area of the South of France. He has lived in Singapore, Cyprus, South Africa, the Netherlands and the UK. He feels an affinity with Greece and has travelled extensively across the country and its islands. Aside from travel, his interests include tennis and golf. He lives in Surrey, but also spends time at his apartment in Uzes, Southern France.