In ancient Athens, the murder of a popular politician threatens the democracy itself.
Young Nicolaos, who narrates in first person, is walking down a street outside the city when a dead body literally flies through the air and lands at his feet. A grieving young man who arrives shortly after identifies the victim as distinguished statesman Ephialtes and himself as his protege Pericles, a fledgling politician and son of the influential statesman and hero Xanthippus. Ephialtes' misfortune could be Nicolaos' lucky charm. For some time, he's tried to avoid following in his sculptor father Sophroniscus' footsteps and to enter politics instead. So he eagerly undertakes the task of finding the killer who shot Ephialtes to death with a perfectly aimed arrow. Nicolaos quickly learns how far out of his depth he is. He makes a very amateurish impression on the imposing Xanthippus and has a hard time keeping up with a group of larger-than-life suspects, including the imperious priestess Diotima, the Machiavellian lawyer Archestratus and the gruff military leader Pythax. Nicolaos' family is no less colorful. His mother Phaenarete's brazen behavior is a frequent embarrassment, and the twitting of younger brother, the ironically named Socrates, a constant annoyance. One key question haunts the ambitious young sleuth: Was the murder personal or political?
Corby's debut novel is energetic, if a bit unfocused, and helpfully appointed, with a glossary as well as a detailed "Time Line to Democracy" spanning more than 100 years and a very entertaining characters list featuring emblematic quotations.