Assassins of Athens was less than classic. To be fair, I read Jeffrey Siger’s murder mystery immediately after The Gods of Gotham and it suffered by comparison. The Greek flavor of the novel was more name-dropping and overlay than infused throughout the story. Donna Leon, with her murders set in Venice, does contemporary location fiction much better.
Siger’s book featured those great leaps of character activity that appear on the scene without sufficient build-up. The women were either cleverer than their bosses and a bit bossy themselves or babes. Please. The love story was improbable. Didn’t warm to the detectives and couldn’t get too excited about the villains or the victims. The sinister underpinnings, meant to evoke an old Greek curse, were less than convincing. The present-day politics may be peculiar to Greece but they seemed generic–xenophobia, illegal immigration, anarchists, old-money/new-money power plays–dull.
Assassins did follow the formula for “police procedural with scenery” so I’m guessing it would serve as a reasonable distraction and might be more interesting to someone with an encyclopedic familiarity with Athens and Mykonos. I enjoy occasional light-weight books set in places I know really well—just for the associations they summon. This wasn’t a bad book—just not an engaging one.
If a few of the non-mystery books I reserved at the library come in, I can swear off murder mysteries for a while and reawaken my enthusiasm for them. Meanwhile, I’m sorry to have missed a mini-Greek vacation of the mind but thinking that Patrick O’Brian and Elizabeth Peters will offer up something more satisfying.
Assassins of Athens Jeffrey Siger | Poisoned Pen Press 2010