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A review of Who Pays the Ferryman? by Michael J. Bird

Who Pays the Ferryman? first appeared as a BBC television series starring Jack Hedley in 1977. Unusually, only later did the creator publish the work in book form. In this article, it is that literary version of the story that we are mainly interested in. So, let's start with a review of Who Pays the Ferryman? by Michael J. Bird.

The plot

The title of the book refers to a story from Greek mythology where the deceased are expected to pay for their crossing from the land of the living to the underworld. Life, death and the consequences of both feature prominently throughout Who Pays the Ferryman? The protagonist Alan Hadane, an ex-British Officer who had fought alongside local partisans in the Second World War, returns to Crete thirty years later to re-evaluate and make sense of his life. The greetings that he receives from his previous allies is very mixed and adds to his confusion. Travelling around the island, he re-visits some of the old wartime hunting grounds and more memories are stirred. Unsure of who to trust or disclose his past to, Haldane begins to piece together the reasons for the hostility that he is now faced with from former comrades in arms. To further complicate matters, he discovers that he had fathered a child with his previous love, Melina. The girl, Annika, had no idea who her real father was and their reconciliation proves no easy affair. The reader experiences the same gradual enlightenment as Haldane and is treated to vivid and truthful descriptions of the wild landscapes of the Cretan mountainous region and the people that populate the area.

Related material

The author Michael J. Bird was born on 31 October 1928. A journalist, scriptwriter and novelist, Bird created other memorable works such as The Aphrodite Inheritance, The Dark Side of the Sun, Maelstrom and The Outsider. He died in May 2001. Paperback The popular paperback edition of Who Pays the Ferryman? has 284 pages and was first published in January 1983 by the Efstathiadis Group. The ten digit ISBN number is 9602260866 and the thirteen digit ISBN number is 978-9602260869. TV series The BBC series that spawned the book was filmed in and around Elounda on Crete and helped to boost their tourist trade. Theme music The theme tune for the series was composed by Yannis Markopoulos and it went on to become a success in the UK charts.

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