Mystery in Delphi

Sometimes, mystery novels take you places you didn't think of before. Everyone knows Delphi and its beautiful temples and ruins. There isn't a single scene in this book played out anywhere there. This book takes you out of tourist Delphi to the real Greece hidden just around the corner from the money haunts.

Mary Stewart's mystery novel is set in Delphi, but not the Delphi you see in every travel catalog or advertisement. Behind the ruins where visitors stand on each others feet, there is a wild and dangerous place called Greece. Her story takes you onto to the wild mountainside of Parnassus towards Amphissa, its walkways and sheep trails above the stadium. It takes you down to the harbor of Itea and its green fields and olive groves.

The story is an unusual one for Mary Stewart, as it takes the form of a quest more than a set mystery that needs solving. The story reaches back into Greece during World War II when the allies poured in money and weapons to support the resistance against the German occupiers. Only very little of those donations were ever used for what they were intended for, as the communists stashed everything away to start a civil war after the occupation ended.

While digging around in Greece's unsavory past, she sets one of her best plots. The story presents history that still is kept under wraps by the Greek government and its officials. And the setting lets Mary Stewart shine at what she does so well: Her description of the landscape with sound and smell in a way that will take you right there dust, heat, and all. The gods still walk the mountainside and Pan is playing his flute to goats and sheep foraging for grass.

An English liaison officer was reported dead during the Second World War. The last thing his English family received from him was a mysterious letter containing a gold coin. Years after the war, his younger brother comes to Delphi to find out how his brother had died. With him are the letter and the gold coin and a long list of questions. Into this steps the heroine by mistake. 

There is a drawback to this book for everyone who has been to Delphi. If you went there and missed out on all the landscape, the walks, and the climbs, you'll probably want to go back. If you plan to go in the future, you'll know to plan for more time than just a day. Mary Stewart's My Brother Michael is available on Kindle. Don't forget to take it along when you visit Greece.

Further reading
Mystery in The Pyrenees Mountains
Austrian Mystery With Horses
Mystery in Scotland