Detective Vasili Karalis shuddered as the forensic pathologist plunged a steel themometer probe into the liver of the pretty young girl. The doctor looked puzzled, withdrew the thermometer, found another in his case, tried again and spoke. "That is strange. The body temperature is a good degree cooler than the air temperature. Are you sure nobody has been messing with the air conditioning? Perhaps it is this cool marble floor." Vasili left the room and had words with the policeman who secured the scene and returned as the pathologist was zipping the corpse into a body bag. "No doc, nobody has touched the thermostat since the first officer arrived. Have you got an estimated time of death?". The pathologist pulled out a calculator, entered some figures and replied, "From the body temperature and lack of rigor mortis at least 24 hours ago, perhaps 36 at most. Before you ask I can see no obvious cause of death. That will have to wait until after the weekend when we get a post mortem carried out."
Vasili opened the door of his own un-air-conditioned flat, kicked off his shoes, turned on the fan and threw the windows open. At least there was a cool beer in the refrigerator. He pulled his chair closer to the window and sat down to review his notes. Miss Xenia Salis, 26, had been discovered deceased at about noon by her boyfriend Takis Xana. He had arrived back in Athens at 4am on the early flight from London having just returned from New York and had caught up on his sleep before calling on Xenia. Scratch one suspect, he was at least 8000 kilometers away when his girl friend died. Still, just in case, he should check up on that alibi on Monday when he had some definitive answers from the post mortem. Tonight he was going to concentrate on several cool cans and then tomorrow spend the day at the beach away from the heat of the city centre.
The early morning traffic in Athens was as hectic as usual. So many people starting in early to avoid the heat of the day. Vasili found a parking spot for his car only two blocks away from police headquarters, one more promotion and he would get a reserved place, and another promotion and it would be one out of the sun. Though not a place he enjoyed visiting at least the police mortuary was cool. The pathologist was working on another body when he arrived and he had to wait to talk to him. Xenia's death was proving to be puzzling. No signs of head injury, poisons, drugs, or existing medical problems. There was some odd damage to the skin of the face and hands, almost like sun burn. The conclusion was that the death was suspicious but with an unexplained cause.
Vasili waved down a passing yellow trolley bus to get to Syntagma. Xenia's boyfriend was a chef at one of the very expensive restuarants that surrounded the large public square next to parliament. It was getting hot again and even though there was air-conditioning on these new trolley buses it was struggling against the sun and the body heat of the passengers. Once at the square Vasili dived under the cover of the awnings of one of the pavement cafe's, found a seat and ordered a strong Greek coffee. Sipping alternately from the minute cup of black hot sweet coffee and the glass of iced water that came with it he reflected on the case and formulated the questions he had for the boyfriend, Takis.
As he was led through the restaurant kitchens to where Takis worked Vasili mopped his brow. Even after the sunbaked streets this was the hottest he had been all day. Boiling pans, glowing grills, blisteringly hot ovens and not a breath of fresh air. The head chef opened a door at the rear of the kitchen and waved Vasili inside to a chilly white walled room where Takis was putting the finishing touches to mouthwatering sorbets in bowls made of ice with embedded flower petals. Now Vasili wished he had brought a jacket with him....