Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Find: The Pericles Commission

When I started this blog post early Thursday evening, it was all about how I was going to take the risk of talking about a book I was only halfway through. In the interim several hours I’ve mowed my way to the end, even though it’s now late Thursday night and I still have to write this blog post, add 400 words to my current manuscript to meet my daily quota, pack lunches for my daughter and myself, and finish our weekly grocery order before I can sleep. (We get our groceries delivered by Amazon Fresh, a lovely time-saving perk of living in the Seattle metropolitan area.)

The book in question is The Pericles Commission, by Gary Corby, a historical mystery with a fictional sleuth working to solve a real-life murder, that of Ephialtes, a statesman who helped establish Athenian democracy nearly 2500 years ago. Our sleuth is Nicolaos, the ambitious 20-year-old son of a sculptor who gets pulled into the investigation when the corpse literally lands at his feet, having fallen from the Areopagus (a rocky bluff in Athens, later known as Mars Hill).

I discovered Gary’s blog months and months before the book came out, because I follow his agent, Janet Reid. I kept going back because Gary always has interesting things to say and because he writes about one of my favorite historical eras, Greece in the 5th century BCE. My interests focus on the Greco-Persian Wars, just a smidge before Corby’s setting, but I’ve read stacks of nonfiction on the era. (I particularly recommend Persian Fire and Lords of the Sea.) So I was delighted to find an author bringing that world to life through fiction.

As you can guess by my speedy reading, I thoroughly enjoyed the result. Nicolaos is an appealing narrator who does a good job introducing the reader to the complex customs of ancient Athens, there’s a nice romantic subplot with a perfect partner in crime-solving, well-developed secondary characters, and a good mix of humor with action and political scheming. I look forward to Book Two next year.

Oh, if you’re planning to read The Pericles Commission, don’t look up Ephialtes on Wikipedia. The result is mildly spoilery.

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