26 July 2011

Review: THE MESSENGER OF ATHENS, Anne Zouroudi

  • Bloomsbury Publishing 2007
  • ISBN 978-0-7475-9275-4
  • 274 pages
  • Source: my local library
  • Shortlisted for itv3 Crime Thriller Awards
Publisher's blurb:
When the battered body of a young woman is discovered on a remote Greek island, the local police are quick to dismiss her death as an accident. Then a stranger arrives, uninvited, from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further. His methods are unorthodox, and he brings his own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies. Who has sent him, on whose authority is he acting, and how does he know of dramas played out decades ago?

My take:
    The fat man stepped over his holdall and crossed the room to stand before the overladen desk. He held out his hand. His manicured fingernails were filed square, whitened at the tips and buffed almost opaque. 'My name,' he said, 'is Hermes Diaktoros. I have been sent from Athens to help you in your investigation into the death of Irini Asimakopoulos.' .....
    For a few moments the fat man hid his mouth behind his hand and looked at Nikos, assessing, considering. 'I wonder,' he said, finally. Are you the kind of man who can be trusted with another man's secrets?'
I'd seen the author Anne Zouroudi recommended a number of times and I'm only sorry I haven't got around to reading this, the first in the series, earlier. I certainly want to read more.

Although he never claims it himself, everyone, including Chief of Police Zafiridis, assumes at first that Hermes has come from the metropolitan police. In fact all he ever says is that he has been sent by a higher authority.

Everyone on the island accepts that Irini Asimakopoulos committed suicide, but the fat man points out that there should have been an autopsy, and that other questions like why she would have committed suicide also need to be answered.
So the main part of the book explores the events that led up to Irini's death.

Anne Zouroudi breaks a few rules with the structure of this book by presenting the information from a number of points of view. Sometimes the reader is not directly told who is speaking but has to work it out from what is being said and the context in which it is being said.

In the long run the fat man achieves justice for Irini, but not the sort of justice we might have expected. In addition he takes care of a few other problems that the villagers have.

In the figure of Hermes Diaktoros I was reminded strongly of Agatha Christie's Mr Harley Quin. In some places Zouroudi's style reminded me of Georges Simenon. I think the similarity mainly lies in the focus on creating atmosphere.

My rating: 4.5

Other reviews to check

Anne Zouroudi's website

The website tells us "Anne conceived The Mysteries of the Greek Detective as a series of seven novels, each based on one of the Deadly Sins. Designed to appeal to fans of well-written mysteries, the books combine highly original plots and engaging characters in vividly-drawn and atmospheric settings."

I won't tell you which of the 7 Deadly Sins I think THE MESSENGER OF ATHENS explores. You will find out that for yourself if you read it.

Hermes Diaktoros (from Fantastic Fiction)
1. The Messenger of Athens (2007)
2. The Taint of Midas (2008)
3. The Doctor of Thessaly (2009)
4. The Lady of Sorrows (2010)
5. The Whispers of Nemesis (2011)


Anonymous said...

Kerrie - I'd heard good things about Zouroudi, too, and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this one. That's an interesting way to tell a story, too, using a variety of perspectives. Really interesting!

bermudaonion said...

I've heard this one compared to Agatha Christie before. I liked it okay, but not as much as you did.

Dorte H said...

I have also been curious to try her books since we met her in Bristol, and I think I will as soon as I begin to buy books again. She struck me as a very interesting person.


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