Wednesday 8 January 2020

Review ~ Scorpions in Corinth by J M Alvey

5 September

Philocles #2

My thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book

Popular playwright Philocles and his actors are hired to take his latest play to Corinth, to promote goodwill between the two cities. But on arrival, their guide and fixer Eumelos drops dead - a victim of poison.

Philocles is convinced someone is out to sabotage the play, and to find out who - and why - he must first uncover the murderer.

But in Corinth the ruling oligarchs seem more interested in commerce than justice. And with the city's religious brotherhoods pursuing their own vicious rivalries, asking the wrong questions could get an outsider like Philocles killed.

What did I think about it...

At the beginning of 2019 I enjoyed reading Shadows of Athens, which is this authors first historical mystery, so I was delighted to read this second thriller in the series, which, once again focuses the attention on playwright, Philocles, and his troop of actors, who always seem to get drawn into a particularly challenging murder/mystery. Travelling from Athens to perform their latest production in Corinth should be straightforward but then their guide, Eumelos, drops dead, seemingly as a result of poisoning.

What then follows is a classic whodunnit in which Philocles, and his disparate group of actors, get drawn into trying to discover just who responsible for the death of Eumelos whilst at the same time trying to keep the peace in a different sort of setting and with a culture that is unlike what they are used to in Athens.

The author writes this type of historical mystery with a good eye for detail and brings the ancient classical world to life in a meaningful way. There are twists and turns aplenty and the plot travelled along quite nicely with more than enough going on to keep me guessing. Scorpions in Corinth is an interesting murder/ mystery which I am sure will appeal to those who enjoy reading about the classical world of ancient Greece and whilst book #2 can be read as an enjoyable standalone it would be better to get to know the idiosyncrasies of Philocles, and his actors, by reading Shadows of Athens first.

About the Author

J M Alvey studied Classics at Oxford in the 1980s. As an undergraduate, notable achievements in startling tutors included citing the comedic principles of Benny Hill in a paper on Aristophanes and using military war-gaming rules to analyse and explain apparent contradictions in historic accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae. Crime fiction was always relaxation reading and that love of mysteries and thrillers continued through a subsequent, varied career, alongside an abiding fascination with history and the ancient world. These interests have all now come together in the first adventure of Philocles Hestaiou, comic playwright and pen for hire in classical Athens.

Twitter @AlveyAuthor  #ScorpionsInCorinth


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