Saturday, March 2, 2024

Sixty Murders and I'm Still Here


Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Pittsburgh



It’s been a busy month with my new Kaldis book (#13) releasing at the beginning of February, number fourteen due to my editor by the end of February, and a challenge-laden cross-country book tour devouring most of February and part of March.


The Mysterious Bookshop, NYC


But as the signature Elaine Stritch song lyric goes, “I’m still here” (Written by Stephen Sondheim for Follies).


And with things having slowed down somewhat, I figured I’d write something deep, meaningful, and artsy for MIE.  So, I went online looking to get my mind off murder and mayhem in the Balkans.  I figured to start my search with the arts section of Greece’s paper of record, Ekathimerini.


But as I’ve come to learn far too often, the fates had something very different in mind for me. The very first headline I saw read, “European crime ring behind 60 killings is dismantled, police say.


I cringed. It sounded as if elements implicit in the manuscript I’d just submitted had made their way into that headline.  ARRGHH.


I had no choice but to do precisely what I didn’t want to do. I read the story.  Thankfully, it’s not about my villains. At least not directly. The last thing you want to do is end up on the wrong side of Greece’s equivalent of Murder Incorporated.


Still, there are some ideas percolating now for Book #15, thanks to that headline.  In fact, I’d say it would be hard for my blogmates or any mystery-thriller writer to read that Reuters’ story and not gain murderous inspiration for their own tales, no matter where they chose to set them on this planet…or beyond.


So, in the spirit of camaraderie and sharing, here’s the news story behind that headline.  May it give you inspiration.  Just remember to be on the lookout for further developments.  I’ve a sense there’s a lot more to this story yet to be told.


International cooperation triggered by a spate of gangland murders in Greece has helped to dismantle a crime ring accused of more than 60 killings across Europe over the past decade, police said on Friday.

More than 39 people, mainly from Serbia and Montenegro but also from Albania and Romania, have been identified on suspicion of participating in a criminal organization, according to court documents, and about 17 are in prison in Serbia, Montenegro and Turkey.


The “Kotor Clan,” set up in 2010 in Montenegro and involved in drug trafficking around the world, split into two rival groups, Kavac and Skaljari, in 2014 after a dispute over a failed drug trafficking operation in Spain.


“The war between the two groups led to at least 60 murders throughout Europe,” said Athens police head Fotios Douitsis.


Four members, from Serbia and Montenegro, arrived in Greece in 2019 looking for a hideout. They were murdered a year later by members of the rival group, police said.


It was when Greece sought help from Serbia and from Europol that the European law enforcement agency established that gang members were using an app to send encrypted messages that would automatically self-destruct


Europol and police in France, the Netherlands and Belgium mounted an operation to get access to the app, and found evidence there connected to the murders in Greece.


Douitsis praised the cooperation and exchange of information among European police authorities, singling out Serbia for its pivotal assistance. [Reuters]



PS. And a BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY to You Know Who.  XOX, Dad.


Jeff’s Upcoming In Person Events


Saturday, March 9, 3:00 p.m. CT
Murder By The Book
Author Speaking and Signing
Houston, TX


  1. Good to read about criminals being caught in the real world and not just in our novels.

    1. Agreed Kim, but not sure which scenario is more fictional. :)