Sunday, 22 December 2013

The Assassins’ Village by Faith Mortimer

Reviewed by Chris Longmuir

Mystery and Murder

I bought this book because of the crime element, and it was described as a classic detective story, so I was expecting something similar to an Agatha Christie book. But it was far more than that. It was a character study and a literary feast.

The descriptive passages were so real I could imagine I was walking down a dusty road in the heat of a Cyprus summer, and I shared the lives of the characters. To give you some idea of how effective the descriptive passages were, I had to leave the house to purchase a carry out of fish and chips after reading a chapter where everyone was eating. I had planned to have a slimming salad but the narrative about food, which I could smell and almost taste, set my digestive juices flowing and made me hungry for something cooked.

There are a lot of characters in this book and when I started reading I found this a bit confusing, although the reason for my confusion may have been because I was reading it last thing at night before I went to sleep. However, it wasn’t long before I got so engrossed in all the characters’ lives and I couldn’t wait to find out more about them. I found the cultural differences between the expats and the Cypriot natives, fascinating. It was like living in the modern age and in a historical time warp all at the same time.

The build up to the murder was gradual, and it became obvious who the victim would be, but not so obvious who was going to do it. And this was where the book differed from a classical detective story, where the murder takes place, and the sleuth does the detecting. This murder was committed nearer to the middle of the book rather than the beginning, although there was a prologue to alert you that something murderous was going to happen.

The mystery in this book was built up through the character studies and the sense that a murder was imminent.

My enjoyment in this book was two-fold. I enjoyed the murder-mystery element, but I also enjoyed the character driven storyline.

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