Today’s Kant reference may seem frivolous, but I thought the Long Eighteenth should pay tribute to what I believe is a first, a historical detective novel featuring Immanuel Kant as a character: The Critique of Criminal Reason, by Michael Gregorio. Here’s the blurb:
Philosophy professor Gregorio delivers a stellar debut, a mystery set in 1804 that cunningly incorporates the ideas of the great thinker Immanuel Kant into a twisty, fast-moving whodunit plot. Wisely, the elderly Kant is not the main focus, instead serving as the cryptic mentor to a young rural Prussian magistrate, Hanno Stiffeniis, who receives a royal summons to Königsberg to take over the search for a serial killer who has spread terror in that city. The dead, found without a visible wound, are rumored to have been victims of the devil, and the supernatural aspects of the crimes only heighten the level of fear in an area of Prussia already on edge because of the expected arrival of Napoleon Bonaparte’s invading army. Admirers of quality intellectual fiction should embrace this book, with its pitch-perfect period detail and psychologically complex protagonist. Hopefully, readers won’t have to wait long for a sequel.