In Athens, a pupil of Plato's Academy is found dead and his teacher suspects this was no accident. He asks Heracles, the "Decipherer of Enigmas", to investigate the case and the murky cult that surrounds it. The second plot unfolds in parallel through the footnotes of the translator of the original Greek text and soon leads the reader to suspect the author of the tale has something to hide too. Plot within plot, meaning inside meaning, the story develops in a fascinating manner that will enchant both mystery fans and scholars as reality is shown to be somewhat untrustworthy. This is a delight of intellectual prowess and sheer fun. --Maxim Jakubowski --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It's set-up is original and brilliant, leading to the fact that we actually have here TWO first-person narrators. One, Diagoras, is a contemporary of Plato, a pedagogue at his academy in Athens. He is writing an account concerning the brutal murder of one of the sons of a leading Athenian dignitary. His body was found on a wooden hillside, and the condition of the corpse initially leads the discovers to think he has been savaged by wolves. Diagoras calls in the "Decipherer of Enigmas", Heracles Pontor (note the initials!) to help investigate the murder. Our second narrator is the modern-day translator of this ancient Greek manuscript, who speaks to us only through his footnotes as he translates the text. Gradually, as he works, another story appears to be emerging in the writing, buried in layers of hidden meaning. It seems that there is a message beneath the main story, and the unnamed translator grows obsessed by it. The more he translates, the deeper the roots seem to extend, until eventually the astonishing, confounding truth is revealed...
This is probably the most important literary thriller since Donna Tartt's The Secret History, or Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.Read more ›
As the book progresses, the two narratives become more an more entwined. It's difficult to describe further without spoiling it, but essentially, the translator grows increasingly convinced the manuscript contains a personal message for him, and his footnotes grow correspondingly lengthy and agitated. The mystery in ancient Greece progresses in relatively pedestrian fashion, with more bodies following the first, and a running argument concerning the merits of empirical reason vs. Platonic philosophy as additional food for thought. However, the mystery of the tale's translator begins to eclipse it. Switching back and forth between the two narrative lines takes some getting used to, but the device will be familiar to readers of Eco and Borges, among others and is integral to the book.
Somoza is plays a tricky game, stringing the reader along with the dual narratives, only to land a wallop of a suckerpunch at the end. His literary devices are nothing new, and nor is his ultimate point (which can't be revealed here), but it's a clever book, bound to entertain and please plenty of folks, especially those with an interest in ancient Greek philosophy.