Posted in Reviews

Review: The Athenian Murders by José Carlos Somoza


Title: The Athenian Murders

Author: José Carlos Somoza

In classical Athens, one of the pupils of Plato’s Academy is found dead. Suspecting this wasn’t an accident, his teacher asks Herakles, the Decipherer of Enigmas, to investigate. A second plot unfolds in parallel through the footnotes of the translator of the text.

Rating: 4/5

This is one of the strangest books I’ve read. I thought it was just going to be a mystery set in Ancient Greece, but then it turned out that the book is full of translator’s notes that are actually part of the story. That immediately made the book more interesting to me because I’ve never read anything like it before.

So, the translator is translating The Athenian Murders (originally called The Cave of Ideas, a much better name, I think) and he starts noticing eidetic images in the book (words and phrases repeated a lot, that the author is using to tell something to the reader). The further he gets with the translation, the more obssesed he is with finding the key idea in the book, to the point where he feels like the book is talking to him and he’s going insane.

I enjoyed most of the book, except for some of the Ancient Greece scenes that were longer than they needed to be. I was a little disapponted to find, after some googling, that eidesis is not a real literary device, it was just made up by the author for this book. It would be fun to look for eidetic images in books (unless they have something to do with figs. I’m so sick of figs after reading this book. I never wanna see figs described again).

The mysteries get progressively more complicated and I thought that this could be one of those books where the author thinks of a great plot but can’t seem to make up a worthy conclusion. So I was pleasantely surprised by the ending that makes sense. I would recommend this book to all lovers of mysteries.


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