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Archive: Other Books > The Irrationalist by Andrew Pessin

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message 1: by anarresa (last edited Mar 10, 2018 05:20PM) (new)

anarresa | 269 comments The Irrationalist
The Tragic Murder of Rene Descartes
By Andrew Pessin
3 stars

As a college philosophy professor Pessin doesn’t just add subtitles to his murder mystery novel, he helps the reader understand the politics and culture of 1600s Europe. Since the average reader is likely not familiar with Rene Descartes’ rocky professional relationships, the tensions and battles between Catholics and Protestants and how they fit into the tensions and battles between France, Germany Sweden and other European powers Pessin takes the time to explain it all. The details are weaved into the plot through his narrator, Adrien Baillet, a mediocre ex-student and current unessential caretaker at a French Jesuit school. Baillet is a very naïve emissary sent to Sweden in the middle of winter for Queen Christina’s gala opening of a Royal Academy and celebration of peace after militarily subduing much of Europe. When he arrives in Sweden, mistaken as a more prominent figure, Baillet is tasked with confirming the politically correct story of Rene Descartes natural death of pneumonia while investigating the more likely story of poison. He needs quite a bit of help as he stumbles through the investigation, but it also piques his curiosity and provides him with purpose in his otherwise aimless life.

I quite enjoyed this historical mystery. It was a period of time I knew little about, there are several well-developed characters, Baillet is a likeable protagonist and there’s a nice balance between the history, humor and action.


message 2: by Jgrace (new)

Jgrace | 2817 comments I think, therefore I am interested. ( Sorry, couldn't resist) Thanks for this review. It sounds like something I might enjoy.


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