Jun 4, 2010

Book Review: Assassins of Athens by Jeffrey Siger

"Ostracize is from the Greek word ostrakizein, meaning ' to banish by voting with ostrakon.' Each vote was cast by writing the name of the one who should be banished on an ostrakon - a piece earthenware, a potsherd." (from Assassins of Athens)

Jeffrey Siger based his crime novel, Assassins of Athens, on this ancient Athenian  custom of banishment of an individual by vote.  The banished person had to leave the country immediately or face death.

That was ancient Greece, but this is Athens in the 21st century. In this crime novel, some fabulously wealthy Greeks may be reviving the old custom to rid their country of equally wealthy but non-Greek families. Add in the anarchists, the revolutionary university students, and the criminal underworld of the city, all being used by an ambitious but revengeful young Greek, Demosthenes, and you have a mix of murder and secrecy that has Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis constantly on the move to find, thwart, and resolve.

Heady mix of politics, society, and distorted nationalism. A great plot, a bit of romance, and some very interesting characters. I liked the Inspector and his cohorts in the Athens police, and the description of the island of Mykonos, where some of the action takes place.

The author lives on Mykonos. He mixes in a bit of Greek customs, such as hand gestures and their meanings, and some Greek sayings. One saying  I had heard before is very direct but practical. It translates to something like this - "If you can't take the heat, leave."

The book was a great library find. It's published 2010 by Poisoned Pen Press. Looking forward to reading Siger's previous mystery, Murder in Mykonos.

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6 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good mystery, but I love the setting. I don't think I've ever read a book that takes place in modern Greece.

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  2. Sounds like a very interesting read - though I've just been learning about the ancient Athens custom of ostricising so maybe I'm just curious about the subject matter (and how they've linked it to the modern world). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book.

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  3. Sounds interesting. Books set in (new to me) exotic locations where you can learn things about the culture and people are fun.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  4. Definitely sounds interesting - I like the concept of that tradition being revived - good plot :)

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  5. Jemi: the old guys who revived the tradition didn't do so well in the book, though it explained their motives.

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  6. Interesting, both of them. I hadn't heard about his previous Murder in Mykonos book though, thanks for posting it!

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