‘This book is ingenious. It is a page-turning, suspense-filled detective story that includes a sharp sense of humour AND it has a hero who fulfils his detective role with an intellectual slant, giving us a sceptical view of the world as filled with corruption, literary references, irony, and relatives we’d rather not see.
There is a wonderful dead-pan attitude of the hero that makes the reader eager to hear more. Here is the hero’s reaction when he is woken in the night by his unwanted house guest who is also his brother: “‘Shouldn’t you be in bed?’ I asked, after I’d had enough and put on a robe. I checked the time: three o’clock. A bad time. The hour of the demon. Shovel-faced men with pitiless eyes knock at doors at three o’clock in the morning.”
The hero’s troubled and hysterical interaction with women he’s attracted to is akin to Peter Sellers’ experiences in the Pink Panther movies:
‘There is nothing wrong with your teeth, Howard. In fact, I have noticed how well you look after them. They are very even – so even that I thought they might be dentures. Delphine says she is almost certain they are genuine.’
‘They are genuine.’
Celeste approached and manipulated my upper lip with her thumb. She examined my teeth. I could see them reflected in her eyes. They looked blue today – her eyes, that is. She tugged at my lower lip and pulled it around. It was curiously unsettling to have a beautiful lawyer examining my mouth in that way. I could hear people passing on the street outside her window. I wondered what they would think if they could see through the blinds.
Here’s an example of the irresistible style and humour of the story when the character is struggling to deal with the hot weather and his professional and sleuthing dilemmas:
Deeply unhappy, I wandered to the balcony in search of perspective, to feel the elements against my skin. The cloudless sky pressed against my best intentions; the sun battered at my humble ambitions. The city couldn’t take much more of this. People had fainted in the streets; an elderly man had died of sunstroke; the president had removed his jacket.
The novel’s humour is corny and fresh at the same time. This trait mixed with a reluctant, under-dog detective makes this tale a highly diverting read. To top it off, this detective who sees no hope in this world ends up giving us just that! I highly recommend this book! (Amazon UK review)
‘The third most enjoyable aspect of Farewell Olympus is how Messenger effortlessly inserts new evidence, time and again, that makes us realize what fools we were to think we knew what was happening – or to understand the characters and motivations of the various protagonists. The second most enjoyable aspect is the dry British wit that keeps you smiling – not guffawing but smiling, and occasionally bursting into a giggle. Messenger is especially good at alluding to French and British perceptions and distrust of each other. But the most enjoyable aspect of Farewell Olympus is the ever-changing relationship between the half-brothers. For the first time in their lives, they end up needing each other if they are to survive amid the mysterious thugs. What really scares them, though, is the possibility that they may actually come to like each other. Farewell Olympus makes me wish I had spent a portion of my youth in Paris, chasing dreams and those gorgeous but incomprehensible women. But you and I can ponder this path not taken by reading Messenger’s – I mean Howard’s – deft and witty tale.’ (Amazon US review)