The Taint of Midas Review
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During the summer, we all have our own ways to deal with the heat. Some head to the air-conditioned comfort of their favorite theater. Some pack their bags and head out on a beach vacation. Others, meanwhile, choose to go on a different kind of vacation, traveling to faraway places on the pages of a good book—like author Anne Zouroudi’s Greek mystery, The Taint of Midas.

For years, Gabrilis Kaloyeros has quietly cared for the land surrounding the ruins of the temple of Apollo on the island of Arcadia, making a meager living selling watermelons and honey. But now greedy developer Aris Paliakis wants the land for more than its historical or agricultural value—and he’ll do absolutely anything to get control of it.

Before Paliakis can get his hands on Gabrilis’s land, though, the beekeeper is killed in a hit-and-run accident. His body is discovered by his old friend, Hermes Diaktoros (a.k.a. “the fat man”), a mysterious stranger who seems intent on finding his friend’s killer. As he searches for answers, he finds ruthless men around every corner—men who are eager to take advantage of their pure-hearted neighbors.

  
 
In her latest Seven Deadly Sins mystery (following 2010’s The Messenger of Athens), author Anne Zouroudi once again takes readers on an elegant literary journey to a small Greek village—a quiet place where laid-back fishermen live alongside cold-blooded sharks, who strive to turn their peaceful village into a thriving, year-round cash cow. It’s a beautiful setting, so skillfully and lovingly drawn that you’ll almost be able to feel the island’s warm summer breeze as you read.

The story, meanwhile, is just as elegant and laid-back as the setting—a mystical mystery with intriguing hints of Greek mythology. It’s both modern and age-old—a present-day story about the sins that have been afflicting men for centuries. And, as such, it has a timeless feel to it.

The island offers a variety of interesting characters—but the fat man takes center stage. In fact, he’s almost a part of the mystery: a traveling stranger who arrives from Athens and leads the investigation into his friend’s death, forever changing people’s lives as he does.

But while the mystical elements (and this mysterious main character) make the story unique, they also tends to make the story feel a bit too neat. The fat man’s mere presence is a kind of deus ex machina; when he’s around, things just seem to work out for the best—and everything seems to fall into place a little too easily.

The Taint of Midas isn’t a wild and thrilling mystery—so, if you’re in the mood for a gripping crime novel that moves along at a breakneck pace, you’ll most likely find it much too sleepy. Instead, it’s warm and relaxed, like a summer day on a Greek island, making it a fine literary getaway for a sweltering late-summer afternoon.

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