Second only to my favorite library responsibility – which is selecting mystery books for the collection – is selecting the travel guides and books about the ancient world. I had one of those cosmic “it’s all coming together” moments a few weeks ago when I happened on a review of The Messenger of Athens by Anne Zouroudi in Publishers Weekly. At the start of this first book in a series based on the seven deadly sins, self-styled investigator Hermes Diaktoros ("The Fat Man") is on the island of Thiminos where the body of a young woman has been found at the foot of a high cliff. PW expressed some concern that the book was perhaps better suited to “armchair travelers interested in Greece than mystery buffs,” and Library Journal said “Zouroudi has a deft way with words and an uncanny ability to create a sense of place. “ A mystery novel with a travel guide built right in – sort of. And then, in the same PW issue there was a review of the “well-plotted“ Still Waters by Marilyn Todd. This book is the third entry in the High Priestess Iliona series which is set in fifth-century B.C.E. Sparta. The head of the secret police needs her help to track down thefts from several caravans transporting gold dust. The first agent he sent to investigate is missing and presumed dead. Another suspicious death follows when an Olympic wrestling champion's chariot, which had been tampered with, crashes into a ravine. Ilonia undertakes the dangerous mission, setting aside her personal comfort and safety, in pursuit of the harsh truth. If you prefer modern Greek encounters, you might want to try the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis mysteries by Jeffrey Siger. If the ancient world is more to your liking, watch for The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby (also set in the fifth-century B.C.E.) which is due in October. Nicolaos walks the mean streets of Classical Athens as an agent for the promising young politician Pericles. His mission is to find the assassin of the statesman Ephialtes, the man who brought democracy to Athens and whose murder has thrown the city into uproar. PW recommends this one for “those who like their historicals with a touch of humor.” And, for those of you who first developed a yearning to visit Greece through those enchanting Mary Stewart novels as I did, I suggest the Leatitia Talbot series by award-winning mystery author Barbara Cleverly. Set in the post-WWI era, the plucky young archaeologist gets to dig on the island of Crete in The Tomb of Zeus (2007) and in the recent A Darker God, when a British theater company performs Aeschylus's famous play Agamemnon in an ancient amphitheater in Athens, a noted scholar is found murdered and Laetitia is on hand to help in the production and later in the investigation. Library Journal calls A Darker God “a complex puzzle worthy of Agatha Christie ... Cleverly has found her voice in Laetitia Talbot, and fans of Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs and Kerry Greenwood's Phrynne Fisher will want to meet her.” Xaire!