The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Somoza

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The English debut of one of Spain's most dazzling younger writers -- a postmodern murder mystery set in ancient Greece.

In this brilliant, highly entertaining, and intriguing novel, Jose Carlos Somoza intertwines two darkly compelling riddles, forcing us to confront the ways in which we interpret reality.

In ancient Athens, one of the pupils of Plato's Academy is found dead. His idealistic teacher Diagoras is convinced the pupil's death is not as accidental as it appears, and asks the famous Heracles Pontor, the "Decipherer of Enigmas," to investigate. As the death toll rises, the two men find themselves drawn into the dangerous underworld of the Athenian aristocracy, risking their own lives to solve the riddle of these young men's deaths. Simultaneously, a second plot unfolds: that of the modern-day translator of the ancient text, who, as he proceeds with his work, becomes convinced that the original author has hidden a second meaning in the text, one that can be interpreted through certain repeated words and images. As the story advances, however, the translator is alarmed to discover references to himself, which seem to address him personally in an increasingly menacing fashion.

An original and unsettling literary mystery, The Athenian Murders introduces a beguiling new talent to an American readership.

About Jose Carlos Somoza

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JosE Carlos Somoza was born in Havana; his family moved to Spain when he was one, and he remains there today. A psychiatrist by training, he has won several awards for his novels, which have been published in thirty countries.
Published June 3, 2002 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 272 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

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that is, the first chapter heading carries a note in which said translator mentions a few of his dilemmas in reconstructing and translating the original Greek text, “The Cave of Ideas, written by Philotextus of Cheronnese.” The translator’s accelerating woes are revealed in lengthy footnotes to t...

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Publishers Weekly

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In a highly original and literary approach to crime fiction, Spanish writer Somoza's gripping English-language debut interweaves text from an ancient Greek manuscript with an account of the growing anxieties of its modern translator.

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The Bookbag

It's a translation of a book written by a Cuban living in Spain and it's about a Translator working on a text about a murder mystery set in Athens at the time of Plato.

Nov 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Athenian Murders


Being a fan of historical and literary mysteries, The Athenian Murders seemed just my kind of book – especially with a cover blurb by Julian Rathbone comparing it to The Name of the Rose.

Apr 21 2006 | Read Full Review of The Athenian Murders

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