Crime Fiction Alphabet: Letter Z

We have reached the final letter in Kerrie’s Crime Fiction Alphabet and to illustrate the letter Z I’m focussing on:

The Whispers of Nemesis by Anne ZouroudiThis book is the fifth in Zouroudi’s series about Hermes Diaktoros of Athens, the Greek Detective.

Summary (from Anne Zouroudi’s website):

It is winter in the mountains of northern Greece and as the snow falls in the tiny village of Vrisi a coffin is unearthed and broken open. But to the astonishment of the mourners at the graveside, the remains inside the coffin have been transformed, and as news of the bizarre discovery spreads through the village like forest fire it sets tongues wagging and heads shaking.

Then, in the shadow of the shrine of St Fanourios (patron saint of lost things), a body is found, buried under the fallen snow – a body whose identity only deepens the mystery around the exhumed remains. There’s talk of witchcraft, and the devil’s work – but it seems the truth, behind both the body and the coffin, may be far stranger than the villagers’ wildest imaginings. Hermes Diaktoros, drawn to the mountains by a wish to see an old and dear friend, finds himself embroiled in the mysteries of Vrisi, as well as the enigmatic last will and testament of Greece’s most admired modern poet.

The Whispers of Nemesis is a story of desperate measures and long-kept secrets, of murder and immortality and of pride coming before the steepest of falls.

My view:

Hermes is a detective with a difference. Just who he is and who he works for is never explained. He’s most definitely not a policeman and when asked he says he works for a ‘higher power’ than the police. He is described as ‘the fat man’. He wears a cashmere overcoat of midnight blue, a grey suit with a subtle stripe and a waistcoat, and white tennis shoes. He has owlish glasses and thick curly greying hair. His name is his

… ‘father’s idea of humour. He’s something of a classical scholar.  And in the spirit of my namesake, I call these’ – he indicated his white tennis shoes – ‘my winged sandals.’  (page 94)

It is this element of the novels that appeal to me – that and the quirky mysteries. And this book certainly is about a strange mystery about the life and death of the poet Santos Volakis. A local man, he had died some four years earlier choking on an olive stone. In his will he had stipulated that his bequests would only be available when his bones ‘finally see daylight’. So the rite of exhumation, which is customary in rural Greece four years after a death was important to his family and friends, but no one was prepared for the shock that it delivered when the bones were revealed.

I found it a little difficult at first following the sequence of events and identifying who was who, but I soon worked it out. I also had worked out what the mystery was well before the the end, which actually added to my enjoyment of reading the book. The setting is superb, placing you so completely in Greece in winter amongst believably real people.

Each of the books in the Hermes Diaktoros series features one of the Seven Deadly Sins – in this one it is the sin of pride. Nemesis is the bringer of retribution.

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (7 Jun 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408821915
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408821916
  • Source: I bought the book
  • My Rating: 3.5/5

1. The Messenger of Athens (2007)
2. The Taint of Midas (2008)
3. The Doctor of Thessaly (2009)
4. The Lady of Sorrows (2010)
5. The Whispers of Nemesis (2011)
6. The Bull of Mithros (2012)

Thanks to Kerrie for organising the Crime Fiction Alphabet. I’ve listed the books I’ve read in a page (see Index tab at the top of the blog) and soon I’ll do a summing up post about the highlights.

About Margaret

Contact me at booksplease@gmail.com
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