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on 3 June 2017
rather sad, very subdued, lots of deaths, betrayals and lies....not a cheerful read...evokes the place and the characters well...a plangent tone in a minor key...
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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I got this book having never heard of Anne Zouroudi and the Mysteries of the Greek Detective. I was apprehensive about dipping into a series without having read the preceding books but thought I would give it a go as the blurb interested me...
Wow! I found I could not put this book down - the first in a long time that has gripped me in such a way. I found my worries about not having read any of the other stories were unfounded. Ms Zouroudi is very good at making the reader feel comfortable and piquing their interest. I was hooked from the first page - and that doesn't often happen.
The story is centred on a mystery and I do not obviously want to spoil it for you so I will be very careful not to give anything away. Perhaps I should, therefore, focus on the Fat Man (as he is called in the story) aka Hermes Diaktoros. This 'messenger' and seeker of 'justice' is perfectly created, his character traits and nuances perfectly drawn. In this story we find him on holiday on a beautiful little island where the Lady of Sorrows, a famous icon, is on display in the local Church.
The story, however, began many, many years before Hermes set foot on the island and we are treated to a glimpse of the beginning of the tale in the prologue set in 1863. It is this beginning that had me hooked and which leads the reader on a trail as winding as the little streets of the island that Hermes will tread, hunting for the truth, seeking out answers to long buried or unacknowledged questions. Along his way, he becomes acquainted with many disparate characters and as he peels away the layers of desperate dreams and prayers, of deceit and mistrust and of many secrets and the lies that they breed, we discover several crimes and injustices perpetrated and that all are significant threads in the fabric of the tale.
Congratulations Ms Zouroudi for a perfectly woven story. I can't wait to read more!
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I enjoyed this book very much. It is a well-written, leisurely-paced mystery set on a small Greek island. There is a lot of description of local culture, atmosphere and characters and not a great deal of plot, but that was fine by me. My copy carried an endorsement from Alexander McCall Smith, and I can see why he would like it. Although very different from Smith's books in many ways, its pacing and morality put me in mind of Mma Ramotswe more than once.

The central character is an enigmatic detective who, like Mma Ramotswe, is interested in goodness, justice and the restoration of wrongs rather than the Law and the police. It is never made clear whom he works for, but he is an engaging character whose insight, powers of investigation and self-certainty in the dispensing of justice verge on the Olympian - perhaps hinting that his connection to the Messenger of the Gods extends further than just his name. He may not have wings on the heels of his shoes, for example, but he is inordinately careful about ensuring that they are immaculate at all times - but this never intrudes and is just an interesting background notion. I liked him a lot.

The plot revolves around an ancient, miraculous icon and some dark goings on among the inhabitants of the island where it is displayed in the church. I strongly recommend that you don't read the publisher's blurb on this page or on the back of the book - in a couple of sentences it gives away the entire plot of the first half of the book. This actually emerges with a pleasing slowness from the local atmosphere, which Zouroudi creates with great warmth and skill, painting the local characters with sympathy but an unsparing honesty, too.

This is an ideal summer read. It's not great literature, but it is well-written, charming, engaging and sun-soaked. Recommended.
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on 18 June 2013
a bit long winded god board half way through, but not to say someone else might enjoy it. not all like the same books
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VINE VOICEon 9 January 2011
This book is a charming, evocative and compelling read. It also has, by the standards of the detective genre's more self-conscious authors, a relatively uncomplicated plot. This is not a criticism - in fact the book's attraction is enhanced by it. Compared to the labyrinthine plotting of Raymond Chandler, for example, The Lady of Sorrows is transparently easy to follow.

Its simplicity of plot reinforces its evocativeness of simple, unhurried small Greek island life on "Kalkos". The experience of living on a small island in the timeless blue Mediterranean is transmitted through Anne Zouroudi's writing, which style and cadence match the tempo of imagined existence on Kalkos.

But back to the plot; relatively uncomplicated as noted, and also deeply human. The crimes in this story - which I will let you discover for yourself - are the crimes of normal, real, people, not the crimes of the imagined beautiful and rich middle or upper classes that fill so many thrillers. This makes them all the more believable and the reader's emotional involvement is deeper for the lack of need to suspend disbelief.

Zouroudi's characterisations are interesting - many of the characters are coincidental and flat, much as they are in everyday life. But while the key players' characters initially seem sketchy, it gradually became clear that the author has a delicate but exact touch, which develops considerable depth to her characters by implication and action rather than direct description.

Zouroudi's main protagonist Hermes Diaktoros, the "fat man", is initially mysterious, but clearly wealthy and benevolent. By the end of the book, I was left with the distinct notion that he appears mystical intentionally. I would go so far as to say that this book - out of the context of the other 3 in the series so far, which I haven't read - is on the far outskirts of the "magical realism" genre. This is an interesting and rather fun direction to take with a mystery story.

Overall, the book is not a to-be-read-again-and-again classic, mainly because of its simplicity. It is however, very well written, wonderfully evocative, and amiably approachable, while occupying a unique corner of the genre.

This writer is going on my "ones to watch" list for the future, and I'm giving the book a solid 4 stars.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I enjoyed this book very much. It is a well-written, leisurely-paced mystery set on a small Greek island. There is a lot of description of local culture, atmosphere and characters and not a great deal of plot, but that was fine by me. My copy carried an endorsement from Alexander McCall Smith, and I can see why he would like it. Although very different from Smith's books in many ways, its pacing and morality put me in mind of Mma Ramotswe more than once.

The central character is an enigmatic detective who, like Mma Ramotswe, is interested in goodness, justice and the restoration of wrongs rather than the Law and the police. It is never made clear whom he works for, but he is an engaging character whose insight, powers of investigation and self-certainty in the dispensing of justice verge on the Olympian - perhaps hinting that his connection to the Messenger of the Gods extends further than just his name. He may not have wings on the heels of his shoes, for example, but he is inordinately careful about ensuring that they are immaculate at all times - but this never intrudes and is just an interesting background notion. I liked him a lot.

The plot revolves around an ancient, miraculous icon and some dark goings on among the inhabitants of the island where it is displayed in the church. I strongly recommend that you don't read the publisher's blurb on this page or on the back of the book - in a couple of sentences it gives away the entire plot of the first half of the book. This actually emerges with a pleasing slowness from the local atmosphere, which Zouroudi creates with great warmth and skill, painting the local characters with sympathy but an unsparing honesty, too.

This is an ideal summer read. It's not great literature, but it is well-written, charming, engaging and sun-soaked. Recommended.
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on 19 January 2011
Yet another excellent read from Zouroudi. Once again set on a Greek island populated by a host of colourful characters, this story centres on the hopes and dreams pinned on an old icon which washed up years ago, and is now a major tourist attraction in the local church. The icon is supposed to have magical powers; although how much of the 'magic' is real, and how much is wishful thinking, we are left to contemplate as the story develops to its moving climax. Zouroudi is brilliant at conveying the constraints and prohibitions of traditional village life, and the pain and suffering inflicted on people too poor and ignorant to escape. Her detective is a triumph: in his dapper suit, with his fondness for pastries and strong coffee, and his little eccentricities, he observes the people around him with a tolerant, compassionate and affectionate eye; and as he moves about them, restoring and redistributing, justice is meted out to all and sundry.
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on 28 July 2010
Anyone who has a soft spot for the pleasures Greece offers will love this book. Although the plot feels somewhat contrived,even incidental, who cares? The descriptions of Diaktoros and the other characters are strong and conjure up memories of Greek types we have met ourselves. Smells of Greek coffee, lemons and herbs waft through the warm landscape and everywhere the heat of the sun beats down mercilessly on this engaging detective, the commanding outsider, who sails in,observes and assesses the islanders and solves the mystery with the minimum of effort, displaying humour and sensitivity along the way.
A gentle and rewarding holiday read.
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on 25 April 2011
Another excellent story from Anne Zouroudi about the lightly stepping, fat detective Hermes Diaktoros. Immerse yourself in the life of the small Greek island as Hermes, based on his luxurious yacht, unravels the riddles that confront him in the local church and village.
Full of atmosphere, suspense, morality and justice.
A delightful summer read that is well paced and laced with the spirit of island life. Smell the lemons, sample the pastries, taste the coffee - relax and enjoy.
Bring on the next Hermes Diaktoros adventure.
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on 11 May 2013
I've just downloaded "The Whispers of Nemesis", which is no. 5 in the series.

Like Anne, I lived in Greece for 20 years. I spent time in remote parts of Greece, especially in the summer months, but mainly lived in Athens. For me, Anne Zouroudi's novels are "the bee's knees!"

Anne captures Greek village life wonderfully. If you haven't experienced it, it might be hard to understand. Yet, the dramas and dilemmas that are depicted are timeless and take place in all cultures and societies.

Possibly, if a reader has never had a holiday or lived in Greece, then they might find the stories far-fetched. But if you've spent any time in a small community, you'll know that what Anne writes about are fundamental human conditions/dramas that occur everywhere.

I've read the books in order. I discovered them by chance because I was searching for novels about contemporary Greece. Like Anne, I lived there for 20 years. It's my home and I hope to return. Anne's novels are utterly gripping; reflect current difficulties for Greek people; show up the 'dark' side of Greek island life that the tourists never see, and touch upon 'beyond-this-world' elements. This is very bold in our pragmatic age. However, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy." (Hamlet)

Thank you very much, Anne :-)
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