Aristotle Detective

Doody, Margaret Anne. Aristotle Detective. Great Britain: The Bodley Head, Ltd., 1978.

Reason read: October in Greece; in honor of Ochi (Ochi/Ohi = no, it’s not okay!) Day. It is Greece’s response to Mussolini’s demand to occupy Greece during WWII. Their refusal to give in to Axis power is celebrated every October 28th. Very cool.

Picture this. The year is 332 B.C. and Athens is under the thumb of Alexander the Great. Closer to home, an Athenian citizen is found with an arrow clean through his jugular. A clear case of murder for no one stabs themselves to death with an arrow, so deduces the citizen public. What is not so clear is how Philemon, a young man already in exile for an accidental death in a barroom brawl, is fingered for the crime. Just how can an absent man commit such a heinous act? The task to prove his innocence falls to Philemon’s cousin, Stephanos. Under Athenian law, inexperienced and naive Stephanos must defend the family name in Philemon’s absence. Here’s where Aristotle comes in. Once Stephanos’s mentor, Stephanos knows he can trust Aristotle to guide him to the truth. Like all gripping suspense stories, all evidence points to Philemon’s guilt and clearing his name becomes a Herculean task. It’s the proverbial David and Goliath story with Stephanos the clear underdog. Stephanos is impetuous, emotional and faced with never-ending bad luck. Like the unrelenting surf, he is pounded with one set back after another. Of course this makes for a great mystery! How will Stephanos clear his family name?

Confessional: can I just say how much I loved seeing Pheidippides as a character in Aristotle Detective? And how is this for tongue-in-cheek? “Pheidippides must have been something of a runner” (p 278). I’ll say!

Quote I could relate to very well, “I turned over clothes in the press, and looked into jars and under furniture – into well-swept and barren corners, in the stupid manner of all personal looking for a lost object” (p 83). Been there!

Author fact: It is rare to not see an “about the author” blurb somewhere on a book: back cover, inside flap, somewhere usually with a smiling photograph to accompany it. Aristotle Detective does not give any clues as to Doody’s personal life except for the dedication. She has a sister named Mary Elizabeth Howell-Jones whom Doody considers a “real” classicist.

Book trivia: Aristotle Detective is the first in a series and is Doody’s first fiction. It’s the only Doody book I am reading.

Nancy said: Nancy called Doody a “classicist” and described the Aristotle plot.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Classical World” (p 59).



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