On the sacred isle of Delos, the priestess Diotima, multitasker extraordinaire, must tamp down the turmoil created by brutish politico Pericles, solve a tricky murder, and then give birth.
Greece, 545 B.C.E.: Diotima and her attentive husband, arch narrator Nicolaos, have come for a ceremonial dedication of offerings. Not far behind, Athenian general Pericles has brought a large troop of soldiers to the idyllic isle. Pericles carries the report of a possible threat from the Persians, who have recently invaded and seized Egypt. Pericles, in civilian clothes so as not to alarm the natives, makes no secret of his disdain for Nicolaos. Peace-loving Anaxinos, the High Priest in charge of the island, is understandably resistant to Pericles’ plan to appropriate Delos’ treasury. Convincing the venerable old priest Geros of the wisdom of cooperation seems to be the key to avoiding violence, but his violent murder changes things considerably. When Pericles steps forward and clumsily proposes an Athenian investigator, Anaxinos outflanks him by appointing Diotima, who can start immediately, to undertake the probe. The word “nemesis,” written on the wall near the body, provides the first solid clue. The culture clash between cosmopolitan Athens and remote Delos figures prominently in Diotima’s handling of potential suspects as she delves deep into the victim’s past in order to find someone with a murderous grudge against him.
In his brisk seventh mystery set in the world of ancient Greece (The Singer from Memphis, 2016, etc.), Corby highlights the crackling chemistry between the two leads and provides another helpful, amusing list of characters that includes a description of and a quotation from each of them.