Murder in Byzantium

Murder in Byzantium

Book - 2006
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Columbia Univ Pr

Moving from the First Crusade to the sun-dappled, cultural wasteland of present-day Santa Varvara, Julia Kristeva's deftly-plotted, multilayered novel tells a suspenseful tale of perversity and loss. In the eleventh-century, a serial killer murders the members of a dubious religious sect called the New Pantheon, leaving a mysterious figure eight drawn on their corpses. In the present, Sebastian Chrest-Jones, a noted professor of human migrations, disappears while on a quest to learn more about his ancestor who roamed across Europe during the First Crusade. Detective Northrop Rilsky and French journalist Stephanie Delacour are on the case, trying desperately to piece together the two-part mystery in the midst of an unexpected love affair. In the tradition of A. S. Byatt, Susan Sontag, and Ian McEwan, Kristeva writes an engrossing and sophisticated thriller that closely observes the mores, obsessions, and excesses of two temporally distinct yet surprisingly intimate worlds.


In this absorbing, suspenseful novel Julia Kristeva combines social satire, medieval history, philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and autobiography within a gruesome murder mystery. Murder in Byzantium deftly moves from eleventh-century Europe, wracked by the turbulence of the First Crusade, to the sun-dappled, cultural wasteland of present-day Santa Varvara, threatened by religious cults, gangs, and a serial killer on the loose.

This killer is murdering members of a dubious religious sect, the New Pantheon, and leaving a mysterious figure eight drawn on their corpses. Meanwhile, Sebastian Chrest-Jones, a noted professor of human migrations, clandestinely writing a novel about the Byzantine princess-historian Anna Comnena, disappears on a quest to learn more about an ancestor who roamed across Europe to Byzantium during the First Crusade. Kristeva's recurring characters, detective Northrop Rilsky and the French journalist Stephanie Delacour, step in and desperately try to piece together the two-part mystery in the midst of their unexpected love affair.

In the tradition of Umberto Eco, Susan Sontag, and Ian McEwan, Kristeva skillfully weaves philosophical and critical ideas into her fiction. Peering into the mores, obsessions, and excesses of contemporary society, Kristeva offers an engrossing portrait of Santa Varvara, a paradoxical place of sunshine and pollution where skeletons lurk in the closets of politicians and oil company executives. Her descriptions of the First Crusade and the Byzantine Empire vividly evoke a distant past while speaking to such contemporary concerns as immigration, fundamentalism, terrorism, and the East-West divide. Murder in Byzantium is also the only work in which Kristeva explores her Bulgarian roots. In the midst of this rich, multilayered historical novel, Kristeva also presents three stunning, closely observed, and interlocking portraits of characters struggling with loss and emptiness in their personal histories and day-to-day lives.

Publisher: New York : Columbia University Press, c2006
ISBN: 9780231136365
0231136366
Characteristics: viii, 249 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Delogu, Christopher Jon

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