The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi is a mystery with an investigator named Hermes Diaktoros. Hermes is a fat man with white canvas shoes that he always keeps immaculately clean despite the grimy atmosphere of the imaginary Greek island of Thiminos. Hermes may, or may not, be the Greek god Hermes. In Greek mythology Hermes is “a god of transitions and boundaries. He is quick and cunning, and moved freely between the worlds of the mortal and divine, as emissary and messenger of the gods, intercessor between mortals and the divine, and conductor of souls into the afterlife.”
The investigator Hermes Diaktoros has many of these same characteristics, and in the book, the first in the series, he is concerned with justice instead of punishment. He investigates a murder that the police, who have their own secrets, are calling a suicide. Each chapter of the book looks at the story from different angles – the victim’s viewpoint, the husband, the friend, the uncle. Gradually and patiently Diaktoros puts the story together until all the secrets are revealed and justice is served, in its own way, to each of the characters in the story.
I have been fascinated by the Greek Islands ever since I saw the amazing light in the movie “Mama Mia” which was filmed primarily on Skopelos and Damouchari. The combination of the ocean, the light, the mountains, and the white houses was so beautiful it made the Greek Islands one of the must see places on my list to travel. The Messenger of Athens presents a slightly different view of the islands – one that is probably more realistic than my idealized dream. The inhabitants of the Thiminos are insular and poor and the villages are dirtier. I still want to visit the Greek Islands, but will be less disappointed with the reality having read this book.
There are now seven books in Zouroudi’s Greek Detective Series. I am looking forward to reading the next one.