Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Lady of Sorrows: Review

The Lady of Sorrows by Anne Zouroudi is a slightly off-beat mystery. Yes, you have your standard murder. Yes, you have your detective investigating the mystery surrounding the murder as well as discovering the identity of the murderer. But the detective is not so much interested in bringing evil-doers to official justice as he is in seeing true justice achieved.

Hermes Diakotoros, our intrepid investigator, stops by a remote Greek island while on a boat journey to take care of undisclosed business. He has always wanted to take a peek at the religious icon lodged on the island--a painting of the Virgin known as "The Lady of Sorrows." But once he views the famous icon, he becomes convinced that the lady is a fake and calls upon a friend in who serves as a governmental art adviser to come and confirm or allay his fears. When she seconds his opinion on the icon, he is all set to leave the situation in her capable hands and continue on his journey until the island's current icon painter is found dead in his fishing boat--poisoned.

Has someone taken revenge on the painter--knowing that if the lady is a fake and has been replaced with such a convincing replica that his must have been the hands to paint her? Or are there deeper secrets on the island? Kiakotoros finds himself searching not only for the murderer but for clues to what happened to the missing lady. And he will discover forgery, betrayal, superstition, and a long-burning rage that might consume them all.

With all the local color and detailed descriptions, Zouroudi's novel could be called a cozy. But the motives that lie beneath the surface of the crime are just a bit darker than those found in the average cozy. She weaves a good story and the justice that Diakotoros dispenses at the end of the novel is very satisfying indeed. Strong points also include characterization, descriptions of the island and Mediterranean summer, and the explanation of the motives behind the murder.  The weakest point for a classic mystery lover like myself is that the identity of the murderer is no secret.  From the moment the icon painter is found dead, there really isn't any reason for the reader to not know who did it. It will take Diakotoros a little bit to hear all the witnesses and gather up the clues...but it's all right there for the reader who has seen the entire story as it unfolds. A bit more suspense on that front would have increased the rating...as it is: ★★★

2 comments:

fredamans said...

The darker aspects are what appeal to me most. Wish it was suspenseful, I feel the two should go hand-in-hand.
Great review!

paperbackpacker.com said...

Great review. Yet another find for my TBR.