The Name of the Rose - Umberto Eco This is one of my 're-read often' books. The story of Adso and his mentor Brother William as they encounter the nefarious secrets of the abbey they have journeyed to somewhere in the heart of Italy is fantastic. Brother William is the unflappable, Sherlock-like investigator first asked by the Abbot to look into some mysterious deaths and then told to stop when he gets too near the truth. Driven by his hunger for knowledge, William attempts to see beyond the rumours of apocalypse and the presence of the devil to find the true human evil at the heart of the mystery.

Following William is his innocent companion, the novice Adso, who tells us this tale of his youth from the perspective of old age. In this tour-de-force by Eco we come across a motley crew of strange characters from the pitable and beastly Salvatore, and the urbane and pompous Abbot Abo to the driven zealot Bernardo Gui (an actualy historical figure painted in somewhat extreme colours by Eco). Woven into the mystery plot and panoply of characters is a dazzling mix of medieval politics and philosophy as the abbey is playing host to a meeting between rival theological factions: the Franciscans who hope to validate their beliefes and way of life in the midst of controversy and their enemies who hope to squash this rival group in its infancy.

To me, reading Eco has been an experience of diminishing returns, as each novel he has written seems to have fallen further and further from the heights achieved by this novel until I could not even finish _Baudolino_ due to its unreadability. That being said _The Name of the Rose_ is a classic and I highly encourage any and all to enter into its fascinating world.