The Taint of Midas
Anne Zouroudi
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Buy *The Taint of Midas* by Anne Zouroudi online

The Taint of Midas
Anne Zouroudi
Reagan Arthur Books
304 pages
July 2011
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Forbidden and dangerous, the spell of Midas hangs over the Temple of Apollo on the Greek island of Arcadia, where modern life steadily encroaches. What might have been an interesting addendum to the fate of ancient ways takes on a new meaning when old bee-keeper Gabrilis is murdered in a bloody roadside accident while riding his tricycle to the local market to sell his watermelons.

Amid olive groves and orange flower and thyme, Zouroudi’s colorful mystery introduces the various stakeholders in a cautionary tale of Greeks who swap passion for greed and eventually lose their souls as a painted eye stares towards the sky, ever “watching the living and the dead.”

A blazing white hot sun shines over Gabrilis's killing. His friend Hermes “the fat man” Diaktoros is given the task of helping local policemen Sergeant Gazis and Constable Petridis solve the crime. The perpetrator won’t get far as Gazis spies on the slope down to the sea the wreckage of what he assumes to be a bicycle. Local news journalist Dinos arrives, his long hair in a ponytail. From the moment Dinos steps from his car, the plot thickens as Zouroudi’s novel becomes an exercise in shattered expectations and missing treasure.

While cicadas hide in the fern branches of the tamarisk trees, Hermes offers Gazis and Petridis a better ally, telling them to start in the obvious place: the local garages, where perhaps someone’s got a vehicle with damage on it they’d prefer no one to see. Apart from scrapings of white paint, the murderer leaves no clues behind. Yet Gazis is convinced that this is the work of one man: Aris Paliakis, a local hotshot property developer, and his lawyer son, Pandelis, employed almost exclusively by his father to keep Paliakis’s empire within the law.

A cutthroat entrepreneur and a crook, Aris is determined to exploit the rising tide of tourists. A man whose lust for money can’t be satisfied, Ari knows that the views on the land surrounding the Temple of Apollo are “more than melons and honey.” The gold taint of evil follows the fat man’s somber mood as he considers the tangled threads of his life, the Paliakis family greed bringing death and unhappiness into this story.

Related in prose that often feels awkward, the plot doesn’t hold any great surprises. Like Diaktoros’ lumbering gait, the novel often comes across as leaden. While the killer eventually gets his comeuppance, the gorgeous settings of Arcadia are most memorable, the novel an adoringly detailed portrait reflecting the vast changes sweeping across the island.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Michael Leonard, 2011

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