Literary Saloon
Site of Review.

Trying to meet all your book preview and review needs.

the Best
the Rest
Review Index




to e-mail us:

support the site

In Association with Amazon.com

In association with Amazon.com - UK

In association with Amazon.ca - Canada



the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Pythagorean Crimes

Tefcros Michaelides

general information | our review | links | about the author

To purchase Pythagorean Crimes

Title: Pythagorean Crimes
Author: Tefcros Michaelides
Genre: Novel
Written: 2006 (Eng. 2008)
Length: 231 pages
Original in: Greece
Availability: Pythagorean Crimes - US
Pythagorean Crimes - UK
Pythagorean Crimes - Canada
  • Greek title: Πυθαγόρεια εγκλήματα
  • Translated by Lena Cavanagh

- Return to top of the page -

Our Assessment:

B : some good ideas, generally well written, but unfolds somewhat awkwardly

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Pythagorean Crimes is set in the earlier part of the twentieth century, beginning with the death of a Stefanos Kandartzis in 1929, then jumping back to 1900, when the narrator, Michael Igerinos, first met Stefanos, at the mathematical congress held in Paris that year. At that congress David Hilbert presented his famous lecture on 'Mathematical Problems', in which he presented twenty-three of the major problems still to be resolved in mathematics (Ben H. Yandell's The Honor's Class: Hilbert's Problems and their Solvers includes both the lecture and a discussion of all the problems and, where applicable, how they were solved and is highly recommended).
       Stefanos and Michael are both mathematicians. Stefanos comes from poor circumstances, while Michael is far better-off, but as fellow Greeks they hit it off in the foreign land. Michael invites Stefanos to the Moulin Rouge in the evening (where they naturally see Toulouse-Lautrec and Jane Avril), and Stefanos then reciprocates by inviting Michael to meet his poor artist friends, who include Picasso ..... Yes, Michaelides places an awful lot of emphasis on period-piece-colour, with cameos by far too many figures (as also happens at the mathematical congress), and while he does this well enough it barely moves the story forward.
       Michael gets off the mathematical track when he has to take over the family business back home. He also gets married, though both he and his wife agree to the most open of unions; eventually Stefanos becomes involved with that woman, and then the next one Michael has strong feelings for. Michael isn't jealous on either occasion, but it does complicate the situation.
       Very slowly Pythagorean Crimes wends its way to the murder of Stefanos. Michael was the last one to see him, and the noose quickly tightens around his neck -- almost too easily, as all the pieces fall into place. Indeed, it looks suspiciously like he's been framed, and there's an obvious figure who might have been responsible for that.
       Michaelides does offer a satisfying mystery-resolution, as things are, indeed, not quite what they seem -- but not necessarily in the way readers might originally have thought. While the motive is slightly disappointing -- it's hard too imagine the character responsible could really believe this -- but Michaelides offers one (and a half) more sweet twists, showing the futility of fighting truth (and how truly senseless murder can be).
       So there's a solid murder mystery at the heart of this book, but Michaelides seems to have had a terrible time figuring out how to frame the whole story, and by insisting on so much mathematical and cultural filler-material (complete with those famous names) he makes something of a mess of the story. There are two novels competing here, one describing mathematical advances against the backdrop of Greek history and society in the early twentieth century, another focussed on murder. Sure, there's considerable overlap, but it feels forced -- and unnecessary.
       Too bad: Michaelides writes well enough, and though a bit too star-struck does offer some nice views of life in Europe at the time -- whether as a wealthy Greek or maths student -- and of the mathematical world in general.

- Return to top of the page -


Pythagorean Crimes: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

- Return to top of the page -

About the Author:

       Greek author Tefcros Michaelides (Τεύκρος Μιχαηλίδης) was born in 1954. He teaches Mathematics at Athens College, Greece.

- Return to top of the page -

© 2008 the complete review

Main | the New | the Best | the Rest | Review Index | Links