The Athenian Murders by José Carlos Somoza
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This mystery tried so very hard to be clever, but honestly? More trying and less clever. It also brought to mind Sophie's World, with the supposed translator becoming a part of the book but perhaps more of a literary device than a real character.
Ostensibly this is an ancient Greek text about the murders of a few young boy/men in Athens, students at Plato's Academy yet also partaking of the arts (forbidden by the Academy) and Heracles is a "Decipherer of Enigmas" asked to find out what really happened. Then there's the translator of the original into Italian, Montalo, who apparently went mad at the end of his life and may have been killed in the same manner as the first death. Finally, there's the modern day translator who realizes that this is an eidetic novel, goes somewhat mad, is kidnapped and finally written out of the text by the original writer. Confused yet?
There is a lot going on, and quite a bit about what life was like in Athens at the time of the "original" murders. For lovers of literature and literary devices there's also much to chew on (although "eidesis" is not a real literary device - I checked). The problem is that there's almost too much going on and, as I said, the author is trying to be too clever.