Friday, 25 March 2011

The Messenger Of Athens

This is also a book we have had lying around the house for quite a few years. I remember my brother reading it at the time and telling me that he did not really enjoy it, so I sort-of put off reading it. I decided to give it a try this year, though, so here is the review.

The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi
First published by Bloomsbury in 2007 (this edition by Bloomsbury in 2008)

Book #1 in The Mysteries of the Greek Detective series

Description: (from back cover)
Lies, love, tragedy - and a stranger with the key to every secret
When the battered body of a young woman is discovered on a remote Greek island, the local police are quick to dismiss her death as an accident. Then, a stranger arrives, uninvited, from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further. His methods are unorthodox, and he brings his own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies. Who has sent him, on whose authority is he acting, and how does he know of dramas played out decades ago?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, The Messenger of Athens is a book we have had lying around the house for quite a few years and that my brother had read it and hadn't enjoyed it. I would like to clarify that I did not start reading this book expecting it to be bad, nor was I in any way influenced by my brother's opinions on it.

So, now that's clear, I have to day I did not enjoy this book. But it was not a bad book, per se. I remember that we bought this book because it sounded quite interesting and something we could relate to, in a way (as we live in Greece). The story does sound quite interesting, from the description on the back cover. There has been a death of a young woman on a Greek island which is dismissed as an accident. But obviously, someone suspects foul play, so a detective from Athens is sent over to investigate the case.

So, there's a death AND foul play suspected. You think that might make an interesting story. Well, it's not really. This book is so very slow in its narrative, that it made me want to read it just so that I could finish it. I really don't like leaving books unfinished (even though I have done it sometimes). Just to explain why I found it slow, by the time I reached page 150 (out of the approximately 250 pages of the whole book), the detective had only found out two things about the whole case. Which probably makes you wonder what was going on in those 150 pages.

The book was not bad in every aspect. The characters were quite well developed, but I think that's what made the book progress in such a slow way. There was also one thing I liked about the narrative. I think that the alternating chapters set in the present (when the detective was investigating) and the ones set in the past (before the death). Another thing I liked about the book is that the author actually gave Greek names to her characters. I remember reading other books, that weren't necessarily set in Greece, but they featured Greek characters, but with Anglicised versions of Greek names or even just plain English names. I'm sorry, but that's just not realistic.

This was the first book in the (quite successful) Mysteries of the Greek Detective (or Greek Detective, for short) Series, followed by The Taint of Midas, The Doctor of Thessaly and The Lady of Sorrows, all featuring the Greek detective Hermes Diaktoros. I am not sure I will be reading any of the follow-up books in the near future, but I have to admit, the covers are quite pretty. I like the fact that they are simple, consistent and look good as a full series.

Rating: 4/10

Anne Zouroudi was born on the 1st day of the year 1959, in Lincolnshire. After she finished school, she started working in the IT industry, which led her to America. There she started to take writing seriously and bought a typewriter, on which she wrote her first short stories. When she moved back to the UK, she went on holiday to a small Greek island (which serves as a backdrop in her first novel, The Messenger of Athens). She lived for many years in Greece, where she met her husband and had her son. Anne Zouroudi currently lives in Derbyshire with her son, where she is working on a new instalment for the Greek Detective series.

More information about the author can be found here:
Anne Zouroudi Official Website
Anne Zouroudi on Goodreads
Anne Zouroudi on

Counts as Book #20 in my 100 Books In A Year Challenge and as Book #9 in my British Books Challenge 2011!

(All pictures are from Goodreads)

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