Photographer Melissa Haye travels to the beautiful Greek island of Asteri to investigate a wildlife smuggling ring and discover the truth about her lover Andrew's mysterious death in Rhodes. There she meets Nicholas Stephanides, the American-Greek mayor, and David Gordon, a reclusive sculptor. As Melissa uncovers the secret, she realises that she must decide which to trust - and her choice will be a matter of life and death.
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The illegal and cruel traffic in rare wildlife is big business. In Night of the Storm' the photographer heroine, Melissa, finds herself in the Greek islands off the Turkish coast investigating the death of her lover at the hands of a smuggling ring. Maytime in Greece is not the most obvious time and place for murderous goings-on, but the idyllic Mediterranean spring turns to storm and danger as the scruple-free businesswoman Katherine, Melissa's greatest enemy, arrives to collect the smugglers last priceless cargo. When Melissa and a young Greek-American visitor, Roxanne Stephanides, get to the animal first, the plot speeds to a dramatic climax.
Andrew sat on the cliff below the castle wall and watched the sky. Far below, the Aegean was a deep rust in the setting sun. Wind gusted against his back. At his feet barley and rockroses, a cushion of yellow vetch growing in the ruins, small red and white flowers whose names Melissa would know.
Down on the beach men moved, dark shapes against the sand. A small boat rode at anchor. Stiffly, Andrew shifted position. From the corner of his eye he saw a stocky, dark-haired man standing a bottle of retsina down on a rock, wiping it carefully with a handkerchief. He nodded a greeting.
Then, to his left, another movement -
Two men looked down at him. One pushed at his body with a foot. 'He's out cold, no problem. Do it.' The other spun the cap from the bottle, poured the contents over Andrew, put the bottle between the sleeping fingers. Then they both rolled him over the edge.
A rattle of falling scree, then silence.
From the corner of her left eye Melissa watched Manoli let the boat butt its own way on a course parallel to the cliffs as he jerked up both hands to make a 'crazy' gesture. In the eye of the lens, a long steep rocky shoreline replaced the cliffs.
No safe anchorage here in a storm. The thought snapped through Melissa's mind, rapid as a camera shutter. Melissa swept the lens higher, towards the central forest before Asteri's bare mountain peak, and gasped.
Wonderful. No other word encompassed it. Mature, unspoilt Mediterranean forest such as is rarely seen in the islands. Glorious tall pines. Great oaks allowed to reach their full height and spread. Cypress stands, not sad or elegiac but vigorous. And beneath, no doubt, although too far for her long lens, the shrubs and flowers: juniper, honeysuckle, cyclamen -
'Amazing!' Melissa exclaimed, colouring with excitement, ears buzzing with heat.
Suddenly a cap - hewn from a blue denim jacket - was dropped onto her head. The stranger straightened the robin-hood style brim over her forehead. 'You're too fair to go without a hat,' he said gruffly, in American-accented English. 'Down, Chloe!' This last in Greek to his dog, bouncing round Melissa's legs.
Surprised - she'd been on the receiving end of some unusual male approaches before now, but this was the most original - Melissa bent and patted Chloe. 'I'll bear that in mind,' she remarked drily.
'Even old hands can be caught by the spring light,' the man went on, touching his own faded blue cap. 'It's very deceptive.'
He had a gruff, seaman-loud voice. Coupled with fiery light eyes, that luxuriant moustache and the rapid-fire approach of many Greeks, he tended towards benevolent dictatorship. 'People have been sent to hospital with heat exhaustion, and there isn't any hospital on Asteri.' His New England accent broadened. 'Sorry if this seems pushy.'
He was so openly bossy that Melissa couldn't help but be amused. 'Thanks,' she said, laughing, face pink from the sun.
'No problem,' the stranger said - she was sure he was suppressing a grin behind his moustache. Suddenly he thrust out a hand. 'I'm Nick Stephanides, the mayor of Asteri.'