Author: Anne Zouroudi, 2007.
Genre: Mystery. Crime. Mythic.
Other Details: Large Print Edition. 340 pages.
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? - synopsis from UK publisher's website.
Some time before the broken body of Irinaki Asimakopoulos is discovered she relates to her uncle a recent dream of a beautiful woman who presented her with a wrapped box. Her uncle cautions her that a dream of Aphrodite is dangerous for a married woman. She scoffs but he tells her that the old gods may have stopped being worshipped but that did not mean they had gone away.
After her death has been ruled an accident (or suicide) a mysterious stranger arrives from Athens. Hermes Diaktoros (Hermes Messenger) claims that his name was his classical scholar father's idea of humour. Or is it? I was strongly reminded of Michael J. Bird's 'The Aphrodite Inheritance' where the old gods of Greece make their presence felt in the lives of modern men in subtle ways.
Described as 'the fat man' throughout the novel he has come from Athens to investigate Irinaki's death and yet he is no policeman but claims that he is the representative of a 'higher authority'. The circumstances leading to Irinaki's death are revealed through flashbacks from various character's perspectives as well as in the present as the fat man interviews people and serves as a catalyst for subsequent events.
I adore novels with this kind of subtlety, perhaps even more than those that are obvious in their depiction of 'gods walking among us'. So I am now totally hooked on this series as much for the mystery of the Greek Detective's identity as for a compelling, atmospheric mystery. Anne Zouroudi also does a marvellous job of capturing the starkness of the out-of-season Greek island setting.