If you are in the mood for a delightful mystery narrated by a crass, smart-ass Romanian journalist turned detective, you are in for a treat! Narrated in a pompous, self-conscious and intentionally overwrought style, Arion’s story weaves in bits and pieces of satire, cultural motifs, and lyrical vignettes, all imposed upon the structure of a traditional whodunnit detective story.
When corpses keep popping up in Mr. Mladin’s library, he realizes it is time to take his fate into his own hands and get to the bottom of it all. But, the cast of characters, read suspects, grows increasingly long. We know the location: the library. We know the weapon: a single dumbbell. But, the perpetrator? Among the Clue-esque retinue include Mladin’s lover, the prodigy violinist Mihaela, Mihaela’s endearing but dubious ex-lover, the playboy and Nordic godlike Sulcer, Mihaela’s pompous father and her ice-cold “Queen Mother,” ex-convicts outed by one of Mladin’s investigative articles, among others.
In the end, Mladin’s cat Mecena saves the day by depositing the tiny clue that cracks the case.
Arion’s book is a fun read that provides a world of insight into the mysterious Romania and its communist heritage. As Mladin pokes fun at the contradictions of his time and place, we get to tag along and peer inside his world. Part Sherlock Holmes, part Communist satire, 100% joy, Arion’s tale is a must read.