book cover of The Unspeakable Acts of Zina Pavlou
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The Unspeakable Acts of Zina Pavlou

A novel by

**Selected for BBC 2 Between the Covers Book Club 2023**

'Tense. Moving. Morally complex. Zina Pavlou is wholly unforgettable.' RACHEL RHYS
'Impressive... worthy of Sarah Waters' THE TIMES


London, 1954. Zina Pavlou, a Cypriot grandmother, waits quietly in the custody of the Metropolitan police. She can't speak their language, but she understands what their wary looks mean: she has been accused of the brutal murder of her daughter-in-law.

Eva Georgiou, Greek interpreter for the Met, knows how it feels to be voiceless as an immigrant woman. While she works as Zina's translator, her obsession with the case deepens, and so too does her bond with the accused murderer.

Zina can't speak for herself. She can't clear her own name. All she can do is wait for the world to decide...


A compelling historical crime novel set in the Greek diaspora of 1950s London – that's inspired by a true story – The Unspeakable Acts of Zina Pavlou is perfect for fans of Erin Kelly, Sara Collins, and Jessie Burton.

'Eleni Kyriacou has drawn such a rich cast in this enthralling and wholly original novel. Utterly compelling.'

'Hugely powerful... Easily one of the best books you'll read this year' EMMA CHRISTIE

'A brilliantly crafted story of two women... and an absolute page-turner' LOUISE HARE

'Immersive, gripping, authentic' ERIN KELLY

'Chilling, gripping' NIKKI SMITH

'A tragic and compelling tale' GUARDIAN

'Zina and Eva will stay with me a long, long time' LOUISE FEIN

'Prepare to become obsessed with Zina Pavlou!' LOUISE MUMFORD

Genre: Historical Mystery

Praise for this book

"Dark, gripping, utterly brilliant. Everyone needs to know this story." - Susan Allott

"Historical Fiction full of suspense and woven with brio!" - Ellen Alpsten

"An absorbing tale of race and class, discrimination and prejudice. It will be a long time before I can get Zina Pavlou out of my head." - Sam Baker

"A gripping historical crime thriller that immerses you in smoky 1950s London. I stayed up to 2am to finish it because I had to know the conclusion." - Penny Batchelor

"Stunning. Eleni Kyriacou brilliantly evokes the true case of the second from last woman to be hung in a fictionalised account that will have the reader equally gripped and outraged." - Tom Benjamin

"A compelling, nuanced and incredibly moving story showing the double standards and judgments directed at women. Loved it!" - Caroline Bishop

"A hugely powerful book. Beautifully written characters and a gripping story that's at times agonisingly tense, at others deeply moving. You'll be thinking about this book for weeks after you finish reading. Easily one of the best books you'll read this year." - Emma Christie

"Eleni Kyriacou is a writer of immense talent and she handles this complex, passionate subject matter with stunning results. A captivating and important story written by an author at the top of her game." - Victoria Dowd

"A gripping true-crime drama... Kyriacou's complex, perceptive and moving narrative brings these devastating events vividly to life." - Philippa East

"A masterclass on writing character - Zina and Eva will stay with me a long, long time... I found the book impossible to put down." - Louise Fein

"A propulsive and fascinating story that hooked me from the very first page. Kyriacou's writing is confident and assured. I loved it." - Nicola Gill

"Based on a true crime, this is a brilliantly crafted story of two women, Zina the accused and Eva her translator. So evocative of 1950s London and an absolute page-turner." - Louise Hare

"The Unspeakable Acts of Zina Pavlou is a gripping read... I enjoyed every minute of this book. A truly wonderful read." - Nydia Hetherington

"Immersive, gripping, authentic: the kind of historical fiction that has the reader looking up from the page, astonished to find themselves in the 21st Century. Zina will stay with me for a long, long time." - Erin Kelly

"Brilliant! As heartbreaking as it is compelling, exploring shocking times in our not-too-distant past. I'll be thinking about it for a long time. And what a page-turner!" - Charlotte Levin

"Kyriacou writes so movingly of the diaspora Cypriot experience, without shying away from the dark, the seedy, the criminal.... It is an extraordinary achievement to humanise a woman accused of not one but two brutal murders of family members; that Kyriacou does so while honouring the fictional (and real-life) victims is remarkable. This is a haunting and intensely compassionate book with complex, compelling characters who will stay with me for a very long time." - Nikki Marmery

"Prepare to become obsessed with Zina Pavlou! I was hooked by this story from the start. Gorgeously dark, gorgeously addictive, a rich and very moving mystery written with elegance and aplomb." - Louise Mumford

"Storytelling of the highest order, and a fascinating re-imagining of a real-life case from the 1950s. A really powerful novel." - Leonora Nattrass

"You know those books where you read a bit and then you have to stop to do life stuff but the characters are still in your head and you can't wait to get back to it? This is one of those and it's brilliant." - Frances Quinn

"Eleni Kyriacou has a gift for capturing time and place perfectly while captivating the reader with her convincing and memorable characters. An excellent and emotional page turner." - Jenny Quintana

"Tense. Moving. Morally complex. Zina Pavlou is part monster, part victim and wholly unforgettable." - Rachel Rhys

"An incredibly powerful story of two women and the tragedy that destroys them both. Chilling, gripping and a story that stayed with me long after I'd finished the book." - Nikki Smith

"Chilling and compelling, a darkly compulsive novel that brings to life 1950s London." - Zoë Somerville

"A story masterfully told with complex characters." - Clare Whitfield

"A terrific re-imagining of a historical true crime case, Eleni Kyriacou has a real knack of bringing the fifties back to life, mixing glamour and grime in perfect proportion to produce a gripping thriller." - Trevor Wood

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