Justice will be done, but what kind of justice?
High on the slopes of Mount Parnassus, near the ancient Temple of Apollo, a group of young idealists protest against the despoiling of the planet outside a European governmental conference. Inside, corporate business lobbyists mingle with lawmakers, seeking profit and influence. Then the charismatic leader of the protest goes missing.
The next day the body of a local woman is discovered in a temple building, placed like an offering to the old gods. Attending the conference Cassandra Fortune, civil servant, former GCHQ investigator and envoy of the British Prime Minister, is co-opted onto the case by the Professor, a senior Greek politician. She is to work alongside Ministerial Security Chief Iraklidis and local policeman Alex Ganas, who are soon joined by Major Lykaios from regional police headquarters. But the police do not trust each other, each fearing that the others are members of a banned, right-wing organisation, Golden Dawn. And they see no reason to trust Cassie.
Only a day later another corpse is found, bloodied and broken, at the foot of the cliffs which tower above the Temple, from which blasphemers once were cast. At the behest of the Professor Cassie and her interpreter, Helena, begin questioning the conference goers and quickly discover that some have their own, hidden agendas and reasons to deceive.
As a storm closes in, strange lights are seen on the mountain.
Cassie, meanwhile, believes that someone is stalking her, watching her every move. She is followed on the lonely walk to the conference centre at midnight and high above the Corycian Cave, inhabited since the Bronze Age, show signs of more recent occupation. Who is the walker in the mountain mist?
When an avalanche isolates the conference centre and all power is cut, preventing communication with the outside world, it is up to Cassie and the others to find the killer.
Are primal forces reaching out from the past and will the ancient and brutal Furies claim their blood vengeance? Or will the forces of law discover the key lies in a tangled, modern web of tragedy and guilt as relentless and fatal as in any Greek drama. Like the famously cryptic Oracle of Delphi, Cassandra Fortune must provide answers before the conference ends, or fail in her first mission for the Prime Minister. And Cassie herself has her own furies, or demons, to face.
When the characters in the drama transfer to Athens where the public inquiry into the deaths takes place, the stage is set to reveal a story of youthful rebellion, desire and betrayal and there are further surprises in store for Cassie.
Oracle is about justice, from the brutal, archaic form of blood vengeance prevalent in early human societies to modern systems of law and jurisprudence, set in the context of a democracy. This is the law and equality under the law which allows democracy to thrive and underpins the freedoms and safeguards for individuals within it. The story is interlinked with Greece's past, as the ancient cradle of democracy and source of many of western ideas of government, but also to its more recent and violent past of military strongmen and authoritarianism in the twentieth century.
Oracle also considers, in the form of a crime thriller, the politicisation of the police and the justice system and how that will undermine justice, especially following the banning of Golden Dawn, the now criminal organisation which wrapped itself in the mantle of politics. It touches on the new academic discipline of zemiology, the study of 'crime' through the prism of the harm it does to people, especially those without power.
Publisher: Claret Press
Number of pages: 286
'There are more twists, turns and unexpected revelations in this story than the path leading to the Corycian Cave and they will keep readers guessing until the unexpected end.' Jean M. Roberts, author of Blood in the Valley; 'What a splendid sequel... 'Oracle' is a page-turner, an engaging and absorbing read.' David Armstrong, playwright (listed Branagh award 2020)