Review copy provided by publisher
Bloomsbury (Hachette) June 2011
Synopsis- Idyllic but remote, the Greek island of Thiminos seems untouched by the modern world. So when the battered body of a young woman is discovered at the foot of a cliff, the local police–governed more by archaic rules of honor than by the law–are quick to close the case, dismissing her death as an accident. Then a stranger arrives, uninvited, from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further. Hermes’s methods of investigation are unorthodox, and his message to the islanders is plain–tell the truth or face the consequences. But Hermes brings his own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies. Who has sent him to Thiminos, and on whose authority is he acting? Rich in images of Greece’s beautiful islands and evoking a life unknown to most outsiders, this compelling novel leads the reader into a world where the myths of the past are not forgotten, and forbidden passion still has dangerous consequences.
Review- The publisher sent me four books in The Greek Detective series after I expressed an interest in this mystery series, set in Greece. I’m not a huge fan of crime and mystery unless there’s a dash of romance, humour or the setting is an exotic location. The latter is what sparked my interest in this one.
A stranger arrives on the Greek island of Thiminos in the wake of the death of Irini Asimakopoulos. The Chief of Police has deemed it a clear-cut suicide but there’s the absence of an autopsy or investigation to support this hypothesis. Also, the Chief has been paid off by Irini’s family which creates immediate doubt about the circumstances of her death. The stranger, Hermes Diaktoros is a private investigator who arrives on the shores to uncover the truth behind Irini’s passing.
The prime suspect is Andreas, her husband who beat her when he discovered her affair. Theo, the man Irini falls in love is the other obvious suspect involved in her death. Either way, Hermes is convinced Irini’s demise was neither accident nor suicide.
The Messenger of Athens unravels the mystery via the current investigations of Hermes who questions, intimidates and befriends the locals and the events that led up to the murder are communicated via the viewpoint of Irini, Andreas and Theo. I was surprised when the person responsible for Irini’s murder was revealed, I hadn’t expected this.
The author heavily focuses on description to enliven the setting and create familiarity with the local community. I particularly enjoyed this aspect of the storytelling because I love reading about different cultures and locations, but it did make for a slow-paced mystery with little suspense.
Hermes as the protagonist who I believe will be the common thread throughout the Greek Detective series was quite difficult to connect with. He was referred to as ‘the fat man’ for a vast majority of the book and somewhat mysterious which meant he remained a faceless character with little personality.
The Messenger of Athens is a quick mystery read set on a Greek island and I do intend to read more of the series- though I do hope ‘the fat man’ is disentangled and expanded… oh and perhaps gets referred to by his name!
“It was okay”
The Messenger of Athens can be purchased from Fishpond and other leading book retailers.