‘The Phoenix’ is a historical detective story in the tradition of Umberto Eco’s ‘The Name of the Rose’. It takes place in Florence in 1494, and the leading character is one of the greatest scholars of the Renaissance, Count Pico della Mirandola, known as the Phoenix. When his good friend and poet Angelo Poliziano dies in mysterious circumstances, Pico suspects he has been murdered. There are more than enough political and other intrigues providing various people with a motive to get rid of Poliziano.
Claes’ ingenuity conceals the fact that he has cast his tale in the form of a thriller - a convincing and exciting thrillerDe Volkskrant
Pico’s investigation into the death of his friend becomes an investigation into the passing of an age and a portrayal of mankind, and leads to his own death.
In ‘The Phoenix’ Claes uses an ornate style in which myth and philosophy flow together. It has become a book in which the search for the solution to the mystery of the murder of Pico’s friend is a search for the solution of the riddle of the world itself.
In a rich book Claes has skilfully released Pico della Mirandola from the dead letters in which he lay buriedDe Groene Amsterdammer