The Bull of Mithros-Anne Zourodi
"It is summer, and as tourists, drawn by the legend of a priceless missing artifact, disembark on the sun-drenched quay of Mithros, the languid calm of the island is broken by the unorthodox arrival of a stranger who has been thrown overboard in the bay. Lacking money or identification, he is forced for a while to remain on Mithros. But is he truly a stranger? To some, his face seems familiar. The arrival of the investigator Hermes Diaktoros, intrigued himself by the island's fabled bull, coincides with a violent and mysterious death. This violence has an echo in Mithros's recent past: in a brutal unsolved crime committed several years before, which, although apparently forgotten may not yet have been forgiven. As Hermes sets about solving the complex puzzle of who is guilty and who is innocent, he discovers a web of secrets and unspoken loyalties, and it soon becomes clear that the bull of Mithros may only be the least of the island's shadowy mysteries."
Written as part of the Greek Detective Mysteries, this takes the place of sloth. I've not read any of the others and that's okay because this is a stand alone crime novel. The atmosphere of Mithros is well constructed and brought to life. The language brings everything to vividness and situations like with the army conscripts seem very, very real. There is a large cast of characters from the island itself and they're all interconnected in various ways (it's a small island after all) which gives rise to several little mysteries as side plots. What could be a very shallow crime is instead told with depth and tenderness.
The main character, the detective Hermes Diaktoros, is a strange man who is not quite beholden to anything really. There's no indication of whose authority he operates under and he is referred throughout as the fat man. That kind of annoyed me, there was no need for it. As someone somewhat otherworldly, Hermes has the ability to talk to people amiably and gain access to buildings and museums. He's old fashioned in a way but that suits him because part of his information gathering takes place in the kafenions which is of course where the older members of a community have got together and gossiped for decades. I've worked in small town Greece so I can attest that indeed, if you want to connect older events with current events, that's who you've got to talk to.
My only real beef with the book is that some of the mysteries got solved via visual cues but not the ones the reader is informed about. I guess that makes Diaktoros more effective as an other worldly detective but I personally like to be able to guess at the solutions to mysteries when I'm reading. I nevertheless enjoyed the novel so don't let that get you down.