Reviews of Athenian Murders, the (2000)
Review by mojosmom (2004-08-27)
This is ostensibly a murder mystery set in Athen sin Plato's time. One of the students at his Academy is found dead, apparently attacked by wolves. Heracles Ponto, the "Decipherer of Enigmas", is asked to investigate.
It immediately becomes apparent that this is no ordinary mystery novel. A footnote on the first page tells us that a second story is also being told -- that of the man who is translating the story from an edition of the original text. His notes tell us about the paper and the handwriting, his discovery of eidetic words and phrases, and information about the text's editor, Montalo, who doesn't seem to notice the eidesis. ("Eidesis" is a literary technique consisting of repeated metaphors and words to conceal secret messages within, and independent of, a text.)
Things quickly become very odd. We learn that MOntalo is dead, apparently torn apart by wolves. The translator has dreams like the dreams of the decipherer in the novel, before he translates those sections. The parallels between the novel and real life increase disturbingly.
As the translator says more than once, "What is going on?"
A complicated, compelling, spooky and fascinating novel.