Farewell Olympus by Jack Messenger

Farewell Olympus by Jack Messenger

Howard, a down-on-his-luck wimp, is an endearing, but also frustrating main character. He’s a nice guy, a struggling writer, definitely NOT a ladies man and his brother, oy, the brother… half-brother… Eugene, he’s a real piece of work. 

The story starts with Eugene dropping back into Howard’s life after a long estrangement. They share a father than neither like. Eugene has come to seek refuge with Howard after getting into some sort of trouble, which is revealed throughout the book. Simultaneously, the shady nature of the man whose apartment Howard is renting comes to light. Howard is an unfortunate bystander in both situations and gets himself beat up, confused and other things I won’t spoil. 

The characters in Farewell Olympus are well written, believable and I cared about them. The plot is interesting and the thread of the mysteries keeps the pace moving nicely. 

Two areas I didn’t love: 

1) Howard was SUCH a wimp. He’s in a romantic relationship with a woman named Delphine and … as he’s threatened by another man moving in on her, he doesn’t really DO anything. Also, with his brother, he allows him to just mooch off of him at every step. His only retaliation is to complain and get curt with him every now and then. I don’t mind that in general, but I wanted Howard to DO something… eventually. Stand up for himself. Or, if he’s not going to… then at least tell me why not? They’re English, so even lines about why he continues to let his good-for-nothing brother stay with him as part of an ingrained passive-aggressive upbringing would’ve been nice (did I just insinuate something about the British?)… but I just didn’t get it. Why was Howard such a wuss?!

2) The mystery wrap-up. It felt like the “whodunnit” was quickly resolved in a paragraph in a way that didn’t feel SUPER rewarding. It was “fine” but when the mystery had kept me hanging on so long, I expected a larger payoff. Maybe Hollywood thrillers have spoiled the simplicity of a good resolution. I don’t know. 

Overall though, the book is so well-written, with charm and humor that sits just below the surface peaking its head up to wave mischievously before getting back to business. It’s a very good book and one I’d recommend for some light, entertaining reading.

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