For the last letter of Kerrie’s Crime Fiction Alphabet I’ve chosen The Doctor of Thessaly by Anne Zouroudi. It’s a good book to end this round of the Alphabet, by an author whose books I’ve seen on the bookshelves but have never read before. I enjoyed it.
Anne Zouroudi was born in England, has lived for some years on the Greek islands and now lives in the Derbyshire Peak District. The Doctor of Thessaly is the third in the series of her Mysteries of the Greek Detective, about Hermes Diaktoros, a mysterious fat man. I was never sure who he worked for, or how he knew of the mystery to solve. Each of the books in the series features one of the Seven Deadly Sins – in this one it is envy, a tale of revenge and retribution.
Set in the little Greek village of Morfi, it begins with Chrissa, a jilted bride weeping on the beach, and then moves on quickly to the discovery of the local doctor, the victim of an attack that has left him horribly scarred and blind. He is the absent bridegroom. Meanwhile Hermes has arrived in the village, waiting to be served at the kafenion:
Adonis, riding by, stared at the man – a big man, perhaps even fat, whose curly, greying hair was a little too long, and whose glasses gave him an air of academia. Beneath a beige trench-coat, he wore a suit without a tie; beside him lay a holdall of green leather. In Eva’s comfortable chair he seemed relaxed, drawing on a freshly lit cigarette, one foot crossed over the other; and it was the stranger’s feet that drew Adonis’s eyes. The fat man was wearing tennis shoes – old fashioned, canvas shoes, pristinely white. (page 9)
Hermes involves himself with the mystery of who attacked the doctor, made more puzzling because the doctor doesn’t want his attacker to be found. At the same time the village is expecting a visit from a government minister, an event that not all the locals want to be successful, and the family of the garage owner is going through some traumatic experiences. Hermes helps out in some unorthodox ways.
Just who is Hermes Diaktoros, I wondered as I read this book? My knowledge of Greek mythology is very rusty, but the clue is in his name, I think – Hermes, the messenger of the gods. He wore shoes with wings, and this Hermes is indeed fleet of foot in his pristine tennis shoes.
There are many things I like about this book, not just the mystery and the references to mythology, but also the characters and the setting which evoke the scenes of a little Greek village so well and the close-knit almost claustrophobic relationship of its inhabitants. And there is a map of the area and a list of characters.
I really must read the other books in the series:
- The Messenger of Athens
- The Taint of Midas
- The Lady of Sorrows
- The Whispers of Nemesis
Thanks to Kerrie for organising the Crime Fiction Alphabet.