It is an early autumn day here with a fine, drizzly rain and a feeling of summer disappearing over the horizon, I have been blackberrying and generally a feeling of the seasons changing and the onset of winter not too far away is creeping up on me. I therefore feel it will be good to review The Whispers of Nemesis which is set on a hot, sunny Greek island and try to forget the dark nights ahead.
I have read all of the so-called 'Greek Detective' books by this author and thoroughly enjoy them. This is the fifth and, as I have come to expect, well up to standard, beautifully written and such a wonderful feeling of place and character. Hermes Diaktoris arrives at the tiny village of Vrisi on the island of Seftos, where a coffin is unearthed and broken open and it seems that the body inside is that of a pig, not that of the famous island poet buried several years previously. There is talk of witchcraft and the devil's work but the truth is more prosaic, a story of lies and deception.
It is a poor place to visit:
"The island was no siren, no draw for crowds of visitors. Long, flat and featureless, its unremarkable landscape and an undistinguished history with no mention in the myths of ancient times nor any references in the guidebooks of today. Set on a wide and sweeping bay which gave no shelter, its town was ranged like a battalion, with trades men's premises and stores all at the centre and commonplace houses on either flank. Behind the town grew acres of medler orchards, whose old trees blossomed, at the appropriate season, into an attractive pink; but the market for medlers was never better than slow..."
Hermes or the Fat Man as he is described, turns up when there is a mystery to be solved, a wrong to be righted, and punishment meted out to the sinner and, in many ways, he reminds me of Agatha Christie's Mysterious Mr Quin who turns up when least expected, and acts as a catalyst to the ensuing events. In an earlier book when his status is challenged his reply was that he comes from a higher authority, one who we never see, but the feeling is that he is sent by the Gods from on high. It is all slightly mysterious and a bit fey at times, but there is nothing whimsical about these stories - they are full of pragmatism and practicality as is fitting for the poor, hard working farmers and shop keepers we meet. Hermes is kind and loving to those who do good and who try their best, but implacable when it comes to the charlatans, the fraudsters, the cheats and the liars and in the end they all get their come uppance before he mysteriously departs.
"He looked the fat man up and down, admiring his cashmere overcoat in midnight blue, his grey suit with its subtle stripe, his waistcoat buttoned over a pale blue shirt. The fat man's owlish glasses gave him an air of academia and his greying hair, though in need of cutting, was thick with curls; he placed his bag between his feet, drawing the shopkeeper's attention, as he did so, to his white shoes"
If you have yet to discover these wonderful books, I really do recommend that you give them a whirl - I am sure you will be charmed and delighted by them and I list below links to those I have reviewed earlier on Random. I am currently working my way through the Reacher books of Lee Childs, set in various locations in the USA, have also read Camilla Lackberg's books set in Sweden, read the last Wallander book a few weeks ago and then 88 Killer set in New York. I have also been revisiting the Montelbano books by Camilleri which I now find I read on an annual basis, set in Sicily so have certainly been around the world with my detectives. Ahead of me lies Norway, Rome, Iceland and many others to discover, but these stories set on the Greek Islands, which I have always loved ever since I read The Moonspinners by Mary Stewart and then holidayed on Crete, are amongst my favourites and I simply love reading them.