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Anne Zouroudi’s newest “Seven Deadly Sins Mystery,” The Taint of Midas, is a crime novel peppered with Greek mythology alongside modern day problems. The mystery begins with the murderous hit and run of Gabrilis, an old man who the murderer feels will not be missed. When an old friend appears and finds his body just before the police arrive, he is immediately believed to be the prime suspect. Fortunately for the cops, this “fat man,” as he is often referred to throughout the book, has the patience of the gods and is willing to look past their first assumptions and aid them in finding the murderer. His methods are far from conventional and the mystical ways he is able to dig up evidence and make friends is anything but earthly.
Readers will see the fat man’s real name, Hermes Diaktoros (reminiscent of the messenger to the gods), only a few times throughout the entire novel. This adds to the character’s mystique because although he is out of shape, he is in no way as obese as some of the other characters that appear. As the narration frequently says “fat man” instead of his actual name it builds up a sense that Hermes is lazy, dumb, and not worth notice, but readers will soon find out the irony of this narrative technique.
Zouroudi may surprise readers with her delivery of Hermes and his otherworldly knowledge, but her greatest achievement is her presentation of the victim, Gabrilis. The Taint of Midas only allows readers a brief journey with Gabrilis, but from the time of his introduction, where he is mourning the loss of his wife, right up to the moment of his death, readers feel a connection to him. Without knowing exactly how Zouroudi has created this emotional bond, readers who have just caught the briefest of glimpses into Gabrilis’ life will find themselves holding their breath as the old man stands alongside the road cleaning off the baseball cap Hermes had told him to wear whenever he traveled along the road.
Characters are not Zouroudi’s only accomplishment in her newest mystery. The way she integrates the breathtaking views and aura of the Grecian landscape alongside the financial, familial, institutional, and tourist problems is astounding. Readers are subtly reminded that tourism can cause corruption and death in the most unexpected ways. But the most damning thing of all in the novel is an attitude of complete confidence in one’s own cleverness.
Overall, The Taint of Midas gives a taste of modern-day mystery in a setting that is at once awe-inspiring and saddening. It presents a story that combines ancient mythology, sacrifice, and friendship in a refreshing and startling manner.
Image Courtesy of Ane Zouroudi