Adventures of 'the fat man'

Friday, December 14, 2012

"The Doctor of Thessaly," by Anne Zouroudi. Reagan Arthur, 272 pp.

Hermes Diaktoros is back in the third book of Anne Zouroudi's "Seven Deadly Sins" mysteries. In this novel, Chrissa Kagili is left standing at the alter. Her French doctor fiance, instead of fleeing his pending nuptials, is found in the back alley, eyes blinded by a chemical thrown in his face. Hermes, known throughout the book as "the fat man," investigates the crime to determine who harmed the new doctor, and why they would go to great lengths to get rid of him.

"The Doctor of Thessaly," preceded by "The Messenger of Athens" and "The Taint of Midas," explores the deadly sin of envy. Each of Zouroudi's Greek Investigator mysteries unpacks a different sin.

There are so many detective/investigator/spy mysteries out there, each one a twist on another. Zouroudi's novel was the first I'd read from Greece, and the first I'd read that doesn't tell the story through the intense perspective of the protagonist.

However, while refreshing, the methods she used in telling the story did disservice to the story being told. Hermes is more often referred to as "the fat man" than by his given name.

Zouroudi also leaves out details. When Hermes learns a bit of new information, Zouroudi simply states that Hermes learned the information, not giving detail as to what the information was. Perhaps she meant to keep the reader intrigued, turning the page to find out the next move. But information is best held from the character, not the reader. When the character knows things I don't, especially given the amount of other missed details, I only feel distanced by the story.

"The Doctor of Thessaly," isn't a terrible book. It's not a great book, but it's worth a read, perhaps, if you're following the series. It's quick, entertaining, and offers a new take on an often overwritten genre. And that, I imagine, is all Zouroudi wanted to achieve anyway.

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