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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them. The blog, however, will continue, and if you've got a good first line to share for TwitterLit please do so here.



  
From a random review:

  

« Billows, Richard A.: Marathon | Main | Dudman, Clare: A Place of Meadows and Tall Trees »

Black, Benjamin: Elegy for April

  

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Henry Holt, 304 pages
1st published: 2010
4 stars

Note: Review copy received from publisher. Amazon affiliate: Links pointing to Amazon contain my affiliate ID. Sales resulting from clicks on those links will earn me a percentage of the purchase price.

In Benjamin Black's third novel featuring Dublin pathologist Garret Quirke, Quirke wrestles with sobriety--his earlier resolution to stay on the wagon didn't take--and stumbles into yet another unofficial case involving a young woman in trouble. This time the girl is April Latimer, a doctor in Quirke's hospital, though he doesn't know her, and a friend of Quirke's daughter Phoebe. April is also a member of what amounts to aristocracy in Dublin: her father was a war hero; her uncle is the Minister of Health. It's a family that's used to burying skeletons, and they're not very pleased when Quirke injects himself into what they consider a purely personal affair.


A theme runs through the Quirke books, and it's in evidence here: people--even one's closest friends and relatives--don't reveal the entire truth about themselves, so you can never really know them. April's family shows the world a false image of itself. Quirke's own family was built on lies. And now Phoebe, who learned in young adulthood that even her most basic assumptions about her world were erroneous, discovers that her friends--April and the other half of their unlikely quartet--aren't quite what she thought them either.

What's odd about this story, like the first two in the series, is that nothing seems to be approached in a straightforward manner. People are loath to ask the obvious questions of April's family and of one another. Quirke seems to leave the room as soon as someone is likely to say something edifying. Criminal wrongdoing is more likely to end in a resigned shrug than in prosecution. I can't see how a society can conduct itself in this way, but that's how Quirke's world seems to operate. Much as I don't feel comfortable in it, I enjoy the dreary milieu Black has painted for Quirke as well as the character of Quirke himself.
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Comments

1.

I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this book. Here are some of mine:

http://living2read.blogspot.com/2010/05/missing.html

It's so interesting to see how another reader responds to the same text. That makes for interesting discussions.

2.

Nice review, Dorothea! Thanks for the link. I enjoy this series a lot.

3.

I have to agree with Debra. This is a really nice review Dorothea. Thanks for sharing.

4.

Great review Debra! "Criminal wrongdoing is more likely to end in a resigned shrug than prosecution." That is exactly how the society operates, even today, especially today, I think. Look at the banking scandal. Not one prosecution. No resources, and more important, no will to do anything, except shrug, complain, get depressed. Not even the will to protest - no tea party here. Lots of tea, though. (happily!)
Odd, as you say, but entirely accurate.

5.

Kathleen! On the other hand, it sounds like it may be the perfect environment in which to embark on a life of crime. Perhaps some mother/son bonding larceny?




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.