WHO reckons ancient history is boring? Certainly not Australian author Gary Corby, who weaves a gripping whodunit set in classical Greece, 2500 years ago.
The second of his Hellenic Mystery series, The Ionia Sanction follows on from the first, The Pericles Commission, with clever young Athenian Nicolaos given the job of uncovering a murderer.
With his tongue set firmly in his cheek, Corby combines real-life and fictional characters in this fun romp, which journeys from Athens to Ionia in the Persian Empire.
When an Athenian official is murdered, rising statesman Pericles reluctantly gives Nico the job of finding the killer. Nico — who only has a couple of years to prove to his father that he can succeed in his chosen profession before going back to the family's sculpture business — is pragmatic and has no time for philosophers. That's a problem — he has a philosophical 12-year-old brother called Socrates.
The trail leads from Athens to Ephesus in the Persian Empire, where he finds his girlfriend, the priestess Diotima, an amateur detective whose case is linked to Nico's. With polite but murderous brigands chasing him and a haughty slave girl, Nico finds himself in the court of the military genius Themistocles, who was once the hero of Athens but now lives in exile and in the pay of Persians.
While Corby is an obvious classical Greek tragic, he also has a sense of fun and The Ionia Sanction is a real page-turner.