The story is of six scholars of Classic Greek and their teacher, living their own version of college life at Hampden. The narrator, Richard, is a scholarship student hiding his real identity from his rich new friends. His voice is non-intrusive but it is his perspective that dominates the events of the novel.
The book is complex and layered; gripping in its fatalistic simplicity. Although you know the core theme of the drama from the outset, you are no less surprised by the extenuating circumstances when the murder occurs.
The characters slowly unravel as time passes.
I have never found myself in such a fringe group, grappling with the meaning of life, killing people and struggling with the psychology of modern times, nor do I have a preference for extinct languages over modern ones, but I identified with the snowballing craziness of the plot.
It reminded me of times when you get in 'over your head' and while you *know* you are not treading the sensible path, you find yourself drawn along anyway. Your need to belong, to share history with people, is stronger than your ability to make ethical and appropriate decisions.
Like the puzzle of adolescence where you struggle for independence and self awareness and where experimentation is the norm, the characters get caught up in the flow of events without really cognising the consequences. Life is about emotion and the characters live to feel, not think. I liked that about the characterisation.
However, I could tell from early on in the book that their fraught connection was bound to erode. The characters themselves were destined to combust following the killing and their downward spiral was inevitable.
It is certainly one of the most engaging reads I have had in some time. Probably not for the faint hearted, but certainly one for those who appreciate good writing.
Have you read this novel? What were your thoughts on it?