Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Pericles Commission Book Review.

"A dead man fell from the sky, landing at my feet with a thud."

And so begins The Pericles Commission, an exciting, fast-paced and surprisingly humorous political thriller set in Ancient Athens.

Written by the very talented Gary Corby, The Pericles Commission follows the investigation of Nicolaos, (son of Sophroniscus and elder brother of a very young Socrates) who is commisioned by Pericles (yes, THAT Pericles) to find out who killed Ephialtes, the flying dead man from the above passage and leader of Athens' fledgling democracy. Nicolaos' investigation ends up taking him all over Athens as he looks for clues, and even has him making friends as well as enemies in both high and low places. The odds are stacked against Nicolaos from the beginning, but with perseverance and a little help from an unlikely ally or two, Nicolaos is able to navigate the dark underbelly of Athenian politics. What he finds however is a conspiracy larger than he could ever have imagined...

There are three things that I absolutely love about this book. One is the pacing. It's fast-paced and never dull, while still managing to be a robust 322 pages long. Two is the attention to detail. I felt like I was back in Athens and could easily visualize the people and places. Third is the humor sprinkled about the story. It helps lighten the otherwise dark tale of murder, mystery and mayhem (lots of mayhem!). If there is anything to nitpick, it's that a couple of events stretch crudulity. Luckily these events were so entertaining to read that I didn't mind at all. Gary Corby knows how to show the reader a good time.

The Pericles Commission is a fun and educational read, and everyone who loves Ancient Greece should snap up a copy. I myself am looking forward to the next entry in the series, as a certain wily politician that I just happen to like may make an appearence...