How compelling can a whole book about one song be? As it turns out: Quite a lot, and very compelling. The secret to this book is that it isn't just about a song. It's a meditation on pop culture over the past few decades.
Just as Hilary Waugh and Ed McBain aimed at writing police procedurals that reflected police work in the United States as it really was (as opposed to the police/classic amalgam that had been in effect prior to their work), John Creasey in England was trying to do the same thing.
His first foray into police procedurals involved Inspector Roger West of Scotland Yard (beginning with Inspector West Takes Charge ), a series that ran through the 1970s in over two dozen titles. Creasey wrote several other series, involving detectives both professional and amateur.
I was astounded by this book. Madeline Miller's achievement with The Song of Achilles cannot be overstated. Here's a novel that's absorbingly readable for a modern audience, but that still has the poetry of Homeric sagas. What's most impressive to me is the balance she finds between exploring the universality of human nature throughout the ages and maintaining the innate alien-ness that I experience every time I read The Iliad - the culture of archaic Greece was so very different from this world we live in today. She lets the truth of that age live and breathe without trying to tame or update it.