Short Story Review: Socrates Solves a Murder by Breni James

Socrates and his friend, Aristodemus, are walking through Athens towards the Lyceum.  On the way, they have a brief talk with a priestess of Apollo, Alecto, to discuss the morning’s omens before they continue on to their destination, and the swimming pool.  However, there is quite a crowd there that morning, including a man praying fervently at the base of a statue of Eros.  So Socrates and Aristodemus decide to go and sit down and talk instead, Socrates stating that he is happy to talk in a crowd but prefers to swim alone.

As the friends are sitting and talking, the statue of Eros suddenly topples over and kills the man praying at his feet, killing him.  And it doesn’t take long for Socrates to work out that this was no act of the god, but murder.  But who did it, and why?  With his clever way of getting information out of people, Socrates soon locates the culprit and solves the crime.

Socrates Solves a Murder is an interesting short story, quite unlike any I have read before, I think.  I attribute this to it’s style.  The dialogue included in the short story is more akin to a script rather than prose, with the name of the speaker preceding speech.  There was enough description provided to give a sense of what classical Athens was like, both in appearance and atmosphere, at the time of Socrates.

This short story was found in The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, ed Mike Ashley.

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