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"It was this castle out there, in the middle of the water," Iakovou said. "I'd always wonder what that was."
The curiosity never faded for the Athens resident and writer, who thought of the historical site as a great setting for a novel.
Her husband and publishing partner, Takis, agreed.
"I think everybody in the U.S. should go to Ellis Island - North, South, East or West," he said. "So they will know what millions of people went through to get here."
The Iakovous' book "Bitter Tide" reflects the authors' interest in the historical location as the setting for their latest mystery.
They credited the work to a new pseudonym, Ann Stamos, because the book is vastly different from their earlier Nick and Julia Lambros mystery titles.
Whereas the series featuring the amateur sleuths involved modern-day restaurants, "Bitter Tide" takes place in 1901 and is told with as much attention to historical accuracy as possible.
So much so, the mystery plot crafted within the context of Ellis Island and New York seemed secondary at times, the authors agreed.
"One of our goals with this is to show Ellis Island as it really was, not the mythology of it," Judy Iakovou said.
She led the research efforts, acquiring massive amounts of information, ranging from facility blueprints to job descriptions and employee diaries.
Her logs filled computer files and "seven 3-inch binders," which Iakovou kept within reach during her writing phases.
The project took considerably longer for the couple than past works, she said, describing their unusual partnership this way: "I'm the writer and he's the plot guy."
Formerly, the Iakovous would share story ideas during work commutes or dinner. Then, she'd write. Her husband later...