Crime Fiction Alphabet: Z is for Zouroudi

The end of the alphabet!

And the first book I penciled in, at the end of last year when I was wondering if I could really do this, and thought it best to make sure I had something for the difficult letters first.

The Messenger of Athens proved to be what I call a watching book. The kind of book that allows me to sit back and observe a whole different world.

It is a world that is beautifully drawn, with many – almost too many – wonderfully evocative descriptive passages. I was transported.

To a small, remote Greek island, where a woman’s body has washed up on the shore. She was a local woman, and it is said that she must have jumped or fallen from the cliffs. Her body is returned to her family and she is buried. Life goes on.

But then a stranger arrives.

“My name,” he said in Hermes Diakatos. “I have been sent from Athens to help you in your investigations into the death of Irini Asimkopoulos.”

There was no investigation. No autopsy. The police thought it was suicide, but the death certificate said accidental death, to spare the family’s feeling.

“I expect you’re surprised at my name. Hermes Messenger. mt father’s idea of humour. He was a classical scholar.”

Who could the visitor, who would be known simply as the fat man, be? He might be a policeman, though he would say that he was not. Or a private investigator. though it was impossible to think who might have hired him. Maybe he was a private individual, willing and able to take steps to see that justice was done. Or maybe he really was Hermes, the messenger of the gods …..

That intrguing question was never answered, but it really didn’t matter.

The fat man had both intelligence and charm. He moved about the island, speaking naturally to people, asking the right questions, leaving the right silences for people to speak, to tell him everything that he needed to know.

And as he does this the stories from the past are told. Stories of a young couple struggling with marriage. He misses the freedom he had as a single man. She wanted another man who she cannot have and feels trapped. Stories of a husband and father who is still drawn to another man’s wife. Stories of concerned families, who see what is happening, what could happen ….

This is a mystery is built on classical lines, well executed, and it fitting its setting perfectly.

There are no major surprises, but that really didn’t matter. It was lovely to watch the story play out with all of the elements – characters, plot, setting, prose – coming together to fine effect.

And in the end justice is done. But maybe not in the way you would expect …

It was the right ending, but I was sorry to leave.

I shall definitely be seeking out the next book in the series …

*****

The Crime Fiction Alphabet is hosted by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.

“Each week, beginning Monday 10 January 2011, you have to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week …”

And now the alphabet is done. I’ve read a wonderful mix of books along the way, and I have discovered many more that I’d like to read one day.

For that I must than Kerrie, and her wonderful contributors.

And next week – or maybe even sooner – I’ll pull my whole alphabet together …

9 responses

  1. You do kind of have to, you know, because there were 24 or 25 or 26 books in your alphabet that I want to read! What a cool project. I love mysteries, and I really enjoyed seeing what you came up with.

    • I definitely will, I just have to find the time to do all the links. I’m really pleased that I got all the way through the alphabet without reading a book just to fill a letter.

  2. I too wrote about Zouroudi and ‘The Doctor of Thessaly’, which I enjoyed. I’d picked this book out from the library early on in the year too and saved it for this letter! I definitely want to read all the books in her Hermes Diakatos series.

  3. Jane – An excellent choice for the last round of the meme. I really like your choice and I must get to know Hermes Diakatos much better than I do. Thank you for the reminder :-).

    • Z was easier than I thought! I’d definitely recommend this one when you want a leisurely, not too demanding mystery.

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