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by Anne Zouroudi
Bloomsbury, August 2007
288 pages
10.99 GBP
ISBN: 074758351X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Here's a pleasant little tale redolent of fish, forbidden love, human frailty and the Greek Islands, with a dash of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. Well, it's pleasant if you concentrate only on the nice characters and on the surroundings and simple village life.

The prologue is gruesome enough, with a corpse, somewhat the worse for wear and birds, being winched from its temporary resting place. Despite the obvious tragedy, somehow, the occasion gives rise to much hilarity and mirth amongst those performing the 'rescue' mission.

The death is not treated as murder until a fat man, calling himself Hermes Diakteros, lands on the island of Thiminos and announces to the Chief of Police that he has been sent from Athens to help with the investigation into the death of Irini Asimakopoulos. So lax is the policeman that he had not even ordered an autopsy, a lack of action that severely displeases the fat man.

The story alternates between the investigator's actions in uncovering the truth (and besides, aiding the health of a sick man) and exactly what happened to the woman who lost her life in the time leading up to her death.

The tale carries overtones of the supernatural as well as the classical -- the Greek authors of old would have had a fine time with the murder scene. Just who is the mysterious fat man who bears the name of a god and by what authority does he investigate the death of the unhappy and reviled woman?

The characterisation of Irini is well done, but that of her lover perhaps less so. I thoroughly enjoyed the character of Hermes the investigator, whatever his origin, The police chief was depicted as being suitably sinister as was, indeed, the reason for Irini's death. I trust THE MESSENGER OF ATHENS won't be a one hit wonder.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, October 2007

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