cover image Murder in Byzantium

Murder in Byzantium

Julia Kristeva, , trans. from the French by C. Jon Delogu. . Columbia Univ., $29.50 (249pp) ISBN 978-0-231-13636-5

In renowned French critic Kristeva's rambling historical mystery, Stephanie Delacour, a Paris journalist, goes to cover the hunt for a serial killer in the city of Santa Varvara, "the paradise of various mafia groups and sects," where she begins an affair with a police commissioner with the improbable if suggestive name of Northrop Rilsky. At this point, the reasonably promising story line gives way to musings and philosophical elaborations, most of which emanate from Prof. Sebastian Chrest-Jones, a historian secretly obsessed with a Byzantine princess. Some intriguing ideas about the First Crusade, language and foreigners come into view from time to time. Eventually, the narrative touches again on the serial killer, who appears to be focusing on members of a religious cult called the New Pantheon. With its somewhat slapdash ending, this ambitious, discursive book will appeal more to intellectuals than crime fans. (Feb.)