cover image The Messenger of Athens

The Messenger of Athens

Anne Zouroudi, Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur, $23.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-316-07542-8

At the start of Zouroudi's intriguing first in a series based on the seven deadly sins, self-styled investigator Hermes Diaktoros (aka "the fat man") arrives from Athens on the island of Thiminos to look into the death of Irini Asimakopoulos, a young woman whose body was found at the foot of a high cliff. Irini's sad story unfolds slowly as Hermes, who can ask questions gently or demand answers gruffly, talks to a number of people involved, including Irini's husband, Andreas; her putative lover, Theo Hatzistratis; Theo's wife, Elpida; and the island's police chief, Panayiotis Zafiridis, who officially deemed her death an accident but privately believes it was suicide. The secrets the locals keep or share can't be hidden from Hermes, who weighs the evidence and, in the end, rewards or punishes in ways that have little to do with written laws. Zouroudi writes well, but this leisurely tale is more likely to appeal to armchair travelers interested in Greece than mystery buffs. (July)