Friday, July 2, 2021




At long last. 


It’s been twenty months since I left Mykonos. A lot has happened to all of us since then. But I’m back…to be followed in a week by she-who-must-be-obeyed, now joyfully taking advantage of newly open travel opportunities to visit her sons.


Perhaps “wide-open” is a better way to describe how travelers are viewing these times, especially to Greece where the planes are full.   New York’s JFK airport was mobbed with masses of people trudging along its seemingly endless terminal 4 toward gates leading to planes whisking them off to destinations around the globe. I had a lot of time to watch them anxiously lining up to fly away--thanks to a five-hour departure delay in my flight (accrued in frustrating half-hour increments of “soon we’ll be boarding” announcements) by a not-yet-ready-for-prime-time Delta Airlines.  But that’s a story I’d rather forget and focus instead on the magic of Mykonos.


Now that I’m here, it’s as if I’d never left, for I’m surrounded by my Mykoniate family of friends.  Though I haven’t checked out the beaches yet, its readily apparent that tourist season is in full madcap swing--in every connotation of that phrase. But Mykonians are used to the craziness, so the subject of primary interest is the same as occupies the attention of the rest of our world. And I’m not talking about the Euro 2020 Football (Soccer) Championships.  But more about that topic later.


A traditional ritual practiced on me by a few friends has them going on at length over why I should write a book set in a particular place or tell a story that “no one knows about yet.” I listen to them all, because in the past many of their insights have found a place in a Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis tale.  Some, though, are so far out there that I’d l likely be classified as a sci-fi writer should I run with them.


So far this year, most have raised a murder that’s captivated the Greek nation. It’s a news story about a helicopter pilot husband who suffocated his wife in front of their not yet year-old child and tried to blame it on a home invasion.  Whenever they do I point out that I’d written about that case a couple of weeks ago here on MIE (“Murder, He Wrote”) and didn’t see where I could go with the story much beyond that.


That’s when a friend asked me if I realized the “true” story behind that murder ties directly into the opening scene of my tenth novel, The Mykonos Mob (published in paperback as Island of Secrets). That got my interest, and once he realized he had it, he thought it would be more fun to tease me with what he claims to know than tell me.


We all have someone like that in our families.


But sooner or later he’ll tell me what he knows and then we’ll see if there’s something in it for Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis to pursue.


For now, though, it’s just a matter of getting back in the groove of life on the island. I’ve never been away mentally, but physically easing back in is quite a different thing.  For example, intellectually I know the island is a tourist goldmine that the world comes to enjoy and exploit. Experiencing it first-hand is always a hoot.  At least for me.


This week the Financial Times published an article by Liz Rowlinson titled, “Ready to Party: post lockdown life brings wealthy buyers back to Mykonos.”  It looks at how money thinks it’s found a hedonistic home on Mykonos.


She’d honored me with an interview a few years back, yet risked it again (with me, among others) for my take on the state of Mykonos, and summarized my views in the last two paragraphs of her on-the-money article as if giving me the final say on the subject.


New Yorker Jeffrey Siger is returning to his holiday home on the edge of the Mykonos old town this week, 35 years after first arriving on the island. The author’s latest novel, The Mykonos Mob, alludes to the “wildly profitable dark side of the island” that he says has evolved in recent years.

Like other Greek tourist locations, Mykonos faces the issue of balancing expanding tourism with preserving traditional ways. To those who suggest it is not authentic Greece any more he says this: “Mykonian families that once sold watermelons off the backs of donkeys are now major business owners; instead of migrating elsewhere, young Mykonians can stay and prosper. Fun and partying has always been a part of Mykonos. It’s just the packaging that has changed.”


As many of you know, in an interview there are many more questions asked, and answers given, than ever appear in print. What Ms. Rowilson attributed to me was wholly accurate, but I had some additional thoughts on the current state of Mykonos in our world’s escape-from-reality-at-any-cost times. To round out my take on the subject vis a vis Mykonos, here’s some of my unpublished Q&A with the Financial Times.


QUESTION 1)  Since we spoke last time round, I have interviewed many people who have bought homes on other islands - the smaller, less touristy ones, but even Corfu and Crete - and the one thing that they all say about Mykonos is that ‘it doesn’t feel like Greece any more.’

To what extent do you agree/disagree with this?


ANSWER.  I’ve heard that said too.  But when pressed for details on why Mykonos
“doesn’t feel like Greece anymore,” the responses generally boil down to longings for the island’s “cheap and rustic” days.  In other words, a return to the years when Mykonos families subsisted catering to the expectations of off-islanders enjoying their dream holidays, without regard for the families’ own economic best interests.  Today, Mykonian families that once sold watermelons off the backs of donkeys are major hotel owners, Mykonians who once migrated in search of better educational and job opportunities remain and flourish, and the once poorest island in Greece is now its most prosperous. 


Tourist-favored places elsewhere in Greece and around the world face the same dilemma as Mykonos: how to strike an appropriate balance between expanding tourism and preserving traditional ways that best benefits their citizens. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution.  Yes, everything is not perfect on Mykonos, but I think it’s safe to say Mykonians would proudly point to what their island has achieved in a relatively short time, through dedicated hard work, sincere hospitality, and creative entrepreneurship, as a first-rate example of what Greece treasures most in its people.



QUESTION 2)   With respect to Mykonos’ half-decade of epic change (2015-2020), can you give me a bit more flavour of this change -- apart from the super clubs, the locals renting out their shop space.  Have the people coming changed? Are there swanky cars driving around? Can you go to other parts of the island to escape this completely?


ANSWER.  While virtually all of Greece suffered through a decade of financial crisis, Mykonos flourished.   From 2010 through 2019, business improved each year over the prior one, and during the last half of that decade the island exploded, offering new hotels, world class restaurants, luxury brand stores, mega-villas, and whatever other accoutrements might be desired by those seeking price-is-no-object holidays.  Many came from foreign lands, often bringing with them a willingness to spend far more than earlier era visitors. Some even purchased homes on the island. 


You can still find spots reminiscent of the “old days,” though by far more places now cater to the island’s new clientele. Perhaps the most obvious sign of the island’s metamorphosis is in its traffic. The number of cars on the road has increased exponentially, though few vehicles are particularly “swanky,” because rough narrow roads discourage that style of transportation.  However, if you’re looking for snazzy cars—and a visible, concrete example of just how much Mykonos changed over that half-decade––in July 2017 Mykonos hosted the concluding leg of the “Gumball 3000 Riga to Mykonos” motorcar rally [and again in 2019], drawing international celebrity participants and their parade of ultra-expensive supercars to the island for three days of fun and partying. The fun and partying always has been a part of Mykonos. It’s just the packaging that’s changed.



QUESTION 3)   Does all this make you want to sell up/ leave?  Or where /or with whom, do you still find the magic of the island that keeps you returning?


ANSWER.  I spend more time on Mykonos each year [other than 2020] than anywhere else on the planet. Mykonos represents family to me, and as with all families, change occurs over time, but you don’t love them any less. Rather, you grow to appreciate them for how they’ve successfully evolved.  The magic is still there.  Besides, what keeps bringing me back to the island is the people, for though I’m not Greek by birth, in my heart I am, and my spirit is, and shall forever be, Mykoniate.



QUESTION 4)  What is your understanding of the Covid rates on Mykonos - has it been declared covid-free yet? I assume you wouldn’t go if rates were not very low this summer, and you didn’t feel secure that you were visiting somewhere that had well-managed the health crisis.


ANSWER.   Covid rates are published for the country as a whole, and even though Mykonos and other islands are considered Covid free, Greece is currently listed as Orange. The general answer is the there have been less than 500 cases total in all the south Aegean islands area. On Mykonos, throughout the entire 2020-2021 crisis period, less than five deaths were attributed to Covid.  A prominent local physician [mine] has examined and issued a PCR test to 50 patients and only one, an American, tested positive, and suffered but a slight fever.



QUESTION 5).  Have flights to Greece from the US increased or decreased due to Covid?


ANSWER.  Flights from the US have broken every previous record. American, Delta, Emirates, and United, are flying from Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Newark, New York, and Washington D.C direct to Athens. As of July 3rd [today] there are nine daily direct flights to Athens from the US.



Whether or not you decide to travel, please stay safe and sensible.




Jeff’s upcoming events


Thursday, August 11
Fish & Olive Gallery—Halki, Naxos Island, Greece
European presentation of A Deadly Twist on the island where it is set
Learn more

Thursday, August 26, 5:00-5:50 p.m.
Bouchercon 2021—New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Marriott—La Galeries 2, 2nd Floor
Moderator, Mystery of Crafting Thrillers Set in Foreign Lands

Friday, August 27, 11:00-11:50 a.m.
Bouchercon 2021—New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Marriott—La Galeries , 4-5. 2nd Floor
Panelist, Thrillers in the World of Politics




  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. as always Jeff you are spot on regarding “the good old days” everything was a great deal less expensive but that that doesn’t change the heart and soul of Mýkonos. Like you I’ve made many friends here and some of the locals welcome me as a member of the family; I can’t wait to return in September

  3. I'll happily stay safe, but come on... sensible? Give me a break. I'll start being sensible when you start being short and mean.

  4. It’s always so much fun reading you, author. Your take on Mykoniate modernity is right on. Longing to fulfill the Mykonos dream again. Fharisto para poli!