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THE LADY OF SORROWS
by Anne Zouroudi
Bloomsbury, June 2010
256 pages
11.99 GBP
ISBN: 1408802236


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

There are two icons at the heart of this mystery: the eponymous Lady of Sorrows and a statue of Priapus. However, The Lady of Sorrows may be a forgery and Priapus is missing his most famous feature and it is how these two symbols are interwoven that lies at the heart of the mystery on this sun-drenched island. Hermes must investigate not only the provenance of the painting that is revered in the church, but also a long-hidden family tragedy that spills over once the forgery is discovered.

In uncovering the mystery Hermes takes us on a tour of this little Greek island as he ambles about talking to the locals and eating (he does not get his nick-name of 'the fat man' without effort). The location and the atmosphere are beautifully written. We get a real sense of place and the heat of the summer sun almost radiates off the page. Sambeca, the devout old woman of thirty, her ugly brother, Agiris as well as Sotiris, the icon painter and his grandson, Sammy are well-developed characters and successfully realised. The other local inhabitants are also affectionately drawn.

The detective side of this book is the weakest point, I feel. It's not that the mystery (or mysteries as there are two) are unrealistic or implausible - they are perfectly feasible given the setup - it's that Hermes seems to find the links by sheer guesswork or psychic powers. The clues are there, but Hermes never lets us in on what he is thinking or even (at the end) how he has come to his conclusions, so that the solution seems to come almost completely out of nowhere. I expect detectives to be brighter than I am and to have got from A to C while I'm still struggling on B, but when they jump from A to D with no apparent steps in between I start to feel suspicious and a bit dissatisfied.

With all that said, I did enjoy reading this book, it's a good read for the beach, or a lazy warm weekend. Or better still a wet winter's afternoon where the sunshine in the pages will take you to warmer places and better weather.

Anthea Hawdon lives in the North East of England and has spent her working life in and around the NHS; she consequently takes refuge in fiction as much as possible.

Reviewed by Anthea Hawdon, August 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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