Title: The Messenger of Athens: A Novel
Author: Anne Zouroudi
Release Date: July 19, 2010
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
On the small Greek island of Thiminos, a young woman named Irini is found dead, broken by the rocks underneath a cliff. The local police chief rules it an accident and does not investigate her mysterious death. The matter is closed until Hermes Diaktoros, something of a private investigator, comes to the island to discover what really happened to Irini.
I enjoy reading books set in different countries, so The Messenger of Athens really appealed to me. It’s set in the Greek isles, so I was expecting a very atmospheric mystery, complete with local curiosities and quirky characters.
The Messenger of Athens definitely satisfied when it came to the setting. Zouroudi vividly portrays life on the Greek island of Thiminos. This book is almost a travelogue of sorts, as Zouroudi treats readers to the sights and smells of this place. It’s clear she is very familiar with this type of setting, and her love for it shines through on every page of the novel. Her descriptions are wonderful and immerse the reader in the locale.
Unfortunately, the plot doesn’t live up to the promise of the setting. Though it is a mystery, there’s no urgency to it. Some of the characters are definitely amusing, and almost all hide dark secrets, but there is little that endears them to the reader. As a result, it’s hard to become invested in this novel. I wasn’t really interested in discovering the answer to the mystery because I just didn’t feel like I had a stake in the novel or characters.
Despite the fact that The Messenger of Athens mostly fell flat for me, I still enjoyed Zouroudi’s descriptions and the depiction of life on a Greek island. This is supposed to be the first in a series, and if the plot and character issues are cleaned up, I would definitely consider picking up the second novel.