Iacovou, Judy

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IACOVOU, Judy

PERSONAL:

Born in United States; married Takis Iakovou (a restaurant owner and writer); children: two daughters. Hobbies and other interests: Greek folk dancing.

ADDRESSES:

Home—GA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Restaurant owner in Georgia, currently co-proprietor of Silver Screen Grill, Crawford, GA, and Checkered Cloth Café, Arnoldsville, GA. Writer.

WRITINGS:

(With husband, Takis Iakovou) So Dear to Wicked Men, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1996.

(With Takis Iakovou) Go Close against the Enemy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Takis Iakovou) There Lies a Hidden Scorpion, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.

SIDELIGHTS:

The husband-and-wife team of Judy and Takis Iakovou has produced several murder mysteries loosely based upon their own experiences as restaurateurs in Georgia. Takis Iakovou, like his fictitious counterpart, Nick Lambros, is an emigrant from Greece. Judy Iakovou, like Julia Lambros, is American. In the tradition of culinary whodunits, the Iakovou titles explore the rich cuisine of Greece while also bringing conspirators and murderers to justice. Even the series' feisty dog is based upon the personalities of two Scotch terriers the Iakovous own.

The couple's debut title, So Dear to Wicked Men, is set in the fictional town of Delphi, Georgia, where Nick and Julia Lambros own and run the Oracle Café. When a businessman new to town dies of poisoning over breakfast at their restaurant, Nick and Julia become prime suspects—in part, they feel, because Nick is an immigrant. Unsatisfied with the detectives assigned to the crime, Nick and Julia go to work on their own, uncovering a trail of deceit, adultery, and monetary skullduggery. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found Nick and Julia "believable innocents caught in a murder plot." A critic for Kirkus Reviews described the fictitious couple as "a kind of Nick and Nora for the '90s," referring to the famed Dashiell Hammett sleuths. The same critic felt that the Iakovou's couple "radiates warmth and charm."

In subsequent novels Nick and Julia have continued to solve crimes with the help of their terrier, Jack, and their chef, Spiro Papavasilakis. Go Close against the Enemy takes a candid look at racial tensions in modern-day Georgia. When the decision to bury a mixed-race child in an all-white cemetery sparks a noisy and nearly violent protest, a gun is misplaced in the fracas. That gun later becomes the murder weapon used on one of the loudest protesters, a fundamentalist named Walter Fry. Suspicion falls upon the last person seen to be holding the gun, the mixed-race child's mother. Julia comes to the young mother's aid and puts her own life at stake by investigating Fry's background and business dealings. In Booklist,GraceAnne A. DeCandido found the subject matter dark but nonetheless noted that the Iakovou team "keeps readers turning the pages." A Kirkus Reviews contributor styled the book "a rambling, sporadically suspenseful plot enlivened by some well-drawn characters and by the authors' heartfelt take on lingering racial injustice."

There Lies a Hidden Scorpion is a more humorous mystery set at a fashionable resort in Florida. Nick and Julia have come south to attend a Greek wedding, but almost immediately upon arrival they discover that much is amiss. An automobile accident looks distinctly like a murder attempt, and the bride and groom seem to be on the receiving end of a series of Greek curses. More than the other titles, this book explores the subject of cultural differences and how they can impact a marriage, as Julia comes to feel uncomfortable at the big Greek gathering. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commended the plot, with its usual forays into criminal activity, but also noted: "What sparkles … is the Iakovous' fascinating but unobtrusive detailing of Greek culture."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Close against the Enemy, p. 1599; November 1, 1999, GraceAnne A. De Candido, review of There Lies a Hidden Scorpion, p. 512.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1996, review of So Dear to Wicked Men, p. 1357; May 1, 1998, review of Go Close against the Enemy, p. 618.

Publishers Weekly, September 23, 1996, review of So Dear to Wicked Men, p. 59; November 15, 1999, review of There Lies a Hidden Scorpion, p. 58.*