25 June 2012

Anne Zouroudi, The Messenger of Athens, 2007

Set on the fictional Greek island of Thiminos, after just thirty pages this present-day murder mystery involving an illicit love affair becomes quietly compelling, probably because Zouroudi’s attention to the detail of the landscape is what gives this book its delicate atmosphere. Then there are the people, with their everyday Greek tragedies in which superstition and gender roles are entrenched and emotionally suffocating. Zouroudi’s characterisation is also good, particularly in the clear depiction of the mannerisms of the investigator Hermes Diaktoros and how they contrast with his mysterious and unexplained background (he is in fact the book’s biggest mystery), always hinting at a ‘higher power’, which may account for the way he gets people to just open up to him with the truth. At times it feels like this debut novel may be heading into Paulo Coelho territory, but it’s reassuringly far more down to Earth than that. Recommended.  PY


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