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Poison In Athens [Anglais] [Broché]

Margaret Doody

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Description de l'ouvrage

3 février 2005
It is the autumn of 330 BC, and three law cases are exciting Athens. Ergokles' case against the wealthy Orthoboulos for malicious wounding seems to come out well for the dignified man, but shortly afterwards he is found dead of poison, evidently hemlock. His second wife is accused of the crime, and her trial for poisoning sets Athens at odds, as sympathies divide. Her stepson is her greatest enemy, and seems sure that she has done the deed, but there are other candidates. Meanwhile, the most beautiful woman in Athens, Phryne, is accused of impiety, a charge that can carry the death penalty. Stephanos, in treating himself to brother visits as she tries to recover not only from his wound but from having killed a man, gets close to danger, and his position as a witness could damage his prospects of marriage. Misogyny, political wrath, and lack of judgment bring affairs to a boiling point, stimulating Aristotle to intervene lest the trial of the stepmother break Athens into fragments. He endeavours to solve the mystery with the help of Stephanos, and also with his assistant Theophrastos, who has made a special study of plant and thus of poisons- (2004-07-02)

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Revue de presse

"History-mystery buffs will have fun with this" (Ink 2004-06-29)

"An enjoyably intricate plot" (TLS 2004-06-29)

"A gloriously atmospheric crime tale alive with the breath of history from the classical past" (Northern Echo 2004-06-29)

Biographie de l'auteur

Margaret Doody is a professor of literature at the University of Notre Dame. She is also the author of The True Story of the Novel. (2004-07-02)

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Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Quatrième de couverture
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3.0 étoiles sur 5 Overly verbose 1 juin 2005
Par ilmk - Publié sur Amazon.com
You get the impression that despite being a literature professor Doody's hobby is ancient Greece as so much of these novels weave in standard theory of Athenian history, culture, and philosophy. Half of these lengthy whodunnits is given over to intellectualizing and polis-debating using our erstwhile hero, Stephanos as a vehicle for receiving the endless rehetoric of Aristotle and his students. For example, chapter two spends its entire time discussing the reason for writing about the Athenian constitution. It is now firmly accepted in academic circles that the real Aristotle's `Constitution of Athens' was written by his students as a series of essay notes and Doody follows the party line in her fictional attibution.
The novel opens with three trials over a period of time that actually commenced before `Secrets of Life'. Firstly, with the brief trial of Orthoboulos who requested Aristotle's help in the case brought against him for malicious wounding. The victory of the defence against the prosecuting Ergokles and his subsequent complete claim over the slave girl Marylla leads on to the murder of Orthoboulous by hemlock at the brothel of Manto to which Stephanos was an unfortunate discoverer of the corpse. His subsequent calling as a witness proves personally embarrassing and puts a spoke in the wheels of time to his marriage day. Orthoboulos' son Kritos accuses his stepmother Hermia of the deed and her inadvertent sacrilege in the agora whilst under accusation links neatly into the next pending trial. That of the heitara, Phyrne, for impiety at the brothel of Tryphaina - an abode at which Stephanos again finds himself present at a most unfortunate time.
As a result of these trials Aristotle scents a bad political wind in the uneasy air of Athens and they decide to prove Hermia innocent of her stepson's charge. The case is further exacerbated by the disappearance of Kritos' brother Kleiophon, himself accused of incest in heated argument with Kritos. What follows is a merry dance as Stephanos desperately tries to ensure he isn't remembered as the `Makedonian soldier', trying to locate Kleiophon, dealing with Antipater's ridiculous spy, Arkhias, and trying to calm an overheated city where prejudice is taking a firm grip. Once the trial of Phyrne is settled in a hugely emotive way, Stephanos finds himself tracking down the corpse of Ergokles and, through Manto, the elusive Lykaina until the truth is spilled during a deathbed confession which rapidly unravels any future trials. At this point Doody chooses to exercise that oft-used reason for crime - namely a love triangle. Passions murder all.
I always find myself wanting to read the next Stephanos novel but temporizing over actually getting going. The reason is that I like the mysteries in them but know I am going to have to sit through at least a hundred pages of lecturing on Greek philosophy, politics and mores etc. etc. by an assorted cast of pompous, self-aggrandizing supporting characters that actually achieve little when it comes to the concepts of gripping the reader and moving the plot along. Unless Doody is using these novels as a vehicle to educate the reader in the finer points of Aristotelean philosophy. In which case it succeeds admirably. It's almost like watching your favourite program and tolerating the adverts because you can't easily fast forward for fear of missing a crucial bit.
So, I'll read the next one, but, as ever, will have to schedule a full five days to get through a book that would take one or two if it were a little more gripping.
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