The Messenger of Athens Review
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When Irini Asimakopoulos’s body was found at the foot of a cliff on the quaint Greek island of Thiminos, her death was quickly declared an accident—though talk on the island leaned more toward suicide.

But Hermes Diaktoros isn’t so sure. The fat stranger arrives on the island on a gloomy fall day and announces that he’s going to find out who was responsible for Irini’s death. As the makes his way around the island, wandering from cafés to boatyards seeking information (even if it’s in the form of island gossip), he begins to uncover stories of love, betrayal, and heartbreak. Along the way, he learns more about Irini—about her heartbreaking past, her lonely life as a fisherman’s wife, and her tragic death. But, at the same time, he also discovers more about the other people on the island, unearthing their deepest, darkest secrets.

In The Messenger of Athens, author Anne Zouroudi offers readers more than just another murder mystery. It’s a love story, a small-town portrait, and a beautifully haunting work of fiction. It tells of loves lost and found, of wounds old and new, of secrets and crimes, of scandal and forgiveness, of hopes and dreams.

The mystery is certainly intriguing, with its touches of romance and its scandalous rumors—but that doesn’t mean that the story feels like some kind of silly romantic comedy. Instead, it’s grounded by the story’s somber, mournful undertones— produced both by the tragedy that the fat man is investigating and by the novel’s setting: a small Greek island in the off-season, as the days are getting colder and the leaves are starting to fall from the trees.

Still, the mystery of Irini’s death is just one of the mysteries in The Messenger of Athens. There’s also the Chief of Police—a mysterious man who uses his badge to get what he wants from the people on the island (especially the women). He’s keeping secrets of his own—and Hermes might just help uncover them while he’s in town.

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all, though, is Hermes himself: a stranger who shows up with no badge, no explanations. He’s just there to figure out who was responsible for Irini’s death—and he simply dives right in. In the process, he changes the lives of many of the people on the island—some for the better, others not so much. He seems to be part detective and part deity (as his name suggests)—but, whatever he may be, he’s definitely an unexpected sleuth who’s sure to keep readers guessing. And when it’s finally time for Hermes to leave the island—when he’s found the answers that he came seeking—some questions are left unanswered, but the conclusion is perfectly satisfying. Everyone seems to have gotten what they need—or what they deserve.

It certainly isn’t a light, fluffy read, but The Messenger of Athens is a captivating mystery—a haunting tale of love, loss, and regret.

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