Avid Series Reader's Reviews > A Dead Man in Athens

A Dead Man in Athens by Michael Pearce
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A Dead Man in Athens by Michael Pearce is the third book of the Seymour of Special Branch historical mystery series. It's the autumn of 1912. Seymour is in Athens to investigate the death of the Sultan's cat. British diplomats fear the cat may have been practice, before the real target: the deposed Ottoman Sultan. With Athens a tinderbox waiting for a spark to ignite war, British and French agencies agree: investigating the cat's death is a useful distraction. Why Seymour from Scotland Yard? His fluency in many languages, not from a posh education, but from his life in London's East End.

Seymour teams with Dr. Metaxas, one of many physicians who attend the Sultan. Metaxas is far more interested in spending his time in cafes than with a hypochondriac Sultan. Seymour enjoys visits with the Metaxas family: son Andreas is caught up in the city-wide fascination with Bleriot machines (airplanes); daughter Aphrodite is an assertive feminist; their mother is fiercely against war.

On numerous visits to the Sultan's residence, Seymour patiently and persistently questions all members of the Sultan's household. He insists upon speaking with all servants, and with members of the harem. A few of the wives are interested in contact with a man who can share news of the outside world (strictly forbidden). Seymour diligently identifies and speaks with each person who is involved with feeding the cat (however slight or short their task). It takes all Seymour's determination, tact and cleverness to outwit all the objections to interviewing wives, servants, officials. The investigation crawls along at snail's pace due to extensive security checks and multiple layers of servants. But in this third episode, more than in the two earlier books, Seymour's repeat encounters with time-wasting bureaucratic protocols are seasoned with humor. The pompousness of the Sultan's servant hierarchy is amusing as he outwits them. As in the previous books, the story provides a fascinating glimpse into daily life at a pivotal location on the brink of war.
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Started Reading
August 17, 2020 – Finished Reading
August 23, 2020 – Shelved

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