Once the tourists have left and summer is over on a small, desolate, Greek island life is grim and miserable. The men are rough and dour, worki..Show More »ng to make some kind of living from the land or sea. The women are used, repressed and submissive. Despite contact with the tourist trade in the summer the islanders are still bound by harsh traditional and restrictive social standards and have no tolerance for anyone wanting to change or progress. Both men and women indulge in continual criticism and malicious gossip. The narrator perfectly captures both atmosphere and characters.
An authoritative stranger arrives on the island and, despite active opposition by the locals, determines to find who is responsible for the death of a young woman. As we gradually discover this may not necessarily be any one person and through flashbacks in time we gradually see her story unfold, intertwined with those of other islanders. The stranger , who calls himself "Hermes", never explains where he comes from and never claims to be a detective. He at least adds some light relief with his thoughts and comments and he is someone we can actually like. We are left to speculate whether he may have truly been "Messenger of the Gods".
In this dreary claustrophobic environment with no prospect of any improvement or enjoyment in life I was surprised they hadn't all jumped off the cliffs. For the first two hours I nearly scrapped this book, but had to find out what happened, so kept on listening and was very glad I did.
I appreciated, rather than enjoyed, this unusual and interesting story, Its descriptive writing helps you visualise the island clearly and even begin tounderstand the sad people. You feel completely drawn close to observe the whole tragedy from outside, right through to a strangely satisfying ending.
The story here was interesting (part murder-mystery, part snapshot of what it's like to live in modern-day Greece) and has some of the same qualities ..Show More »as 'The Ladies #1 Detective Agency' series, though with more incisive character studies and a less sentimental approach.
I feel certain that some of these character studies and 'slice of life' moments were supposed to be light-hearted and even a little bit funny, but apparently the narrator and/or the audio director for this recording didn't agree with me, because the reading was slow, sonorous, and sounded more like a eulogy than a novel in which honeybees figure prominently and someone's always eating a sugary pastry.
Three-second pauses between sentences are common; whole phrases are more 'intoned' than 'spoken'; and every character sounds like they've been seriously depressed and/or lethargic for a while now.
That might have worked if the story itself were some dark Russian tale where family members were killing each other and black clouds were always looming over a barren landscape while children died of pneumonia every five minutes. Here it just kind of gets in the way of enjoying some of the really quite good characterizations and interactions between characters.
Having listened to the previous story I was keen to listen to this one, given it was not available as an ebook. I really wish authors/publishers would..Show More » address this deficiency. The narrator reads the story well and the story is worth listening to. I can hardly wait to listen to the rest in the series. What I don't understand is why we (I'm a Canadian) have to wait so long to listen to a book. The series has been in print for awhile; we are only now getting them in other formats.