Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Messenger of Athens - A Review

The Messenger of Athens by Ann Zouroudi

The publisher's description:  
Idyllic but remote, the Greek island of Thiminos seems untouched and untroubled by the modern world. So when the battered body of a young woman is discovered at the foot of a cliff, the local police - governed more by archaic rules of honor than by the law - are quick to close the case, dismissing her death as an accident.
Then a stranger arrives, uninvited, from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further into the crime he believes has been committed. Refusing to accept the woman's death as an accident or suicide, Hermes Diaktoros sets out to uncover the truths that skulk beneath this small community's exterior.
Hermes's methods of investigation are unorthodox, and his message to the islanders is plain - tell the truth or face the consequences. Before long, he's uncovering a tale of passion, corruption and murder that entangles many of the island's residents. But Hermes brings h0is own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies - and as he travels the rugged island landscape to investigate, questions and suspicions arise amongst the locals. Who has sent him to Thiminos, and on whose authority is he acting? And how does he know of dramas played out decades ago?  

Rich in images of Greece's beautiful islands and evoking a life unknown to most outsiders, this wonderful novel leads the reader into a world where the myths of the past are not forgotten and forbidden passion still has dangerous consequences.

What did I think?
I'm on the fence on this one.  I can't quite decide if I loved it or hated it.  This is an exceptionally descriptive book.  The author took time to describe everyone and everything... painting a vivid picture but slowing the pace down significantly.  For my personal taste, I felt it was too much and quite frankly had I not been reviewing this book, I likely would have stopped reading sometime during the first 200 pages.  

Also, not being Greek and not having a lot of contact with the Greek community, I found it hard to follow with all the long Greek names - and there were a lot of characters in this story.  A few times I found myself flipping backward to figure out who we were talking about.

Having persevered, however, I enjoyed the ending.  I did like the main character, Hermes, though I would have enjoyed more character development on him (and less on others).  I liked the basic story line and the message, it just felt really, really long.

* Thanks to the Hachette Book Group for sending me a free copy to review.

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