About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi

The Crime Fiction on a Euro Pass hosted by Kerrie Smith at Mysteries in Paradise has reached its second last stop in Greece. Reading about Anne Zouroudi through other blogs encouraged me to choose one of her mysteries for my post on Greece.

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48. – 608.) The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi – Since Greece is the origin of classic myths it is appropriate that Zouroudi creates a modern myth set on the island of Thiminos.

Irina Asimakopoulos has died and the local police are indifferent. Suicide is presumed and the file closed until Hermes Diaktoro, the fat man, arrives to re-open the case. Was her death suicide or murder?

It should not have been a myth but I found that I had presumed life was as idyllic on the Greek isles as in the village of Three Pines in the rural Quebec mysteries of Louise Penny. I expect I was unduly influenced by the beautiful photos and posters of Greece that fill the world. I know the movie, Mama Mia, reinforced that myth. My self-created myth was shaken, if not shattered, by the descriptions of Thiminos in winter. It is a bleak place with miserable weather. Its people live in cold crumbling stone houses. Life is a struggle with the tourists gone until summer. I was depressed by the grimness of winter life on Thiminos.

The people of Thiminos live in a small world with rigid social rules. As in the distant days of the Greek gods these islanders breach the norms at their peril. I grew up in Saskatchewan near a small village and live in a city of a few thousand people. Thankfully my real life neighbours are far different than the insular islanders.

It is a challenge seeking information in a closed society. The people of Thiminos guard their secrets from non-islanders. Yet the fat man, with genial persistence, gradually learns of Irinia’s troubled life. The tension builds carefully as the details of Irinia’s life unfold.

The book comes alive as the author alternates between the current investigation of Hermes and the past with the islanders, including Irinia, talking about their lives.

There is a robust, even mythic, presentation of passion that is far more powerful than the descriptions of physical coupling customarily presented in fiction for passion.

It is rare that the means of dying shock me but I was startled by the cruelty of Irinia’s death.

It is a lovely book even if it has discouraged from considering visiting the Greek islands outside summer. Hardcover or paperback. (Aug. 27/11)

8 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this book too Bill, and really mean to read some more by this author. Thanks for contributing so consistently to the meme

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  2. Kerrie: Thanks for your encouragement. I appreciate your inventiveness in memes and posts.

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  3. Teena: Thanks. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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  4. Nice review, I have not tried this author yet, though I have heard nice things about her series. Thanks also for visiting my blog Petrona!

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  5. Maxine: Thanks for the comment. You have an excellent blog.

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  6. Bill - Thanks for this excellent review. You highlight one of the things that well-written books always do for me. They dispel whatever myths and wrong assumptions I may have had about a place or a people. I'm glad that this one's authentically-written and realistic. Even if it does take away that beautiful image of a sun-drenched, gorgeous Greek island...

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  7. Margot: Thanks for the comment. You make me think more about mysteries than anyone else. I had not considered that mysteries often tell me more about the reality of a place than other sources of information.

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