The second novel following Philocles the playwright, following on from Shadows of Athens.
The Persian War is over and wealthy Athenians are looking to expand alliances overseas.
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 . . .
There is a new star in the classical firmament. Philocles is engaging, inspiring and feels absolutely real. This is historical writing at its best and crime writing worthy of prizes. Riveting
It's about time . . . Alvey sets the scene perfectly, with easy brushstrokes and lightly worn learning. In Philocles we have an aspiring playwright, man of the people and reluctant detective. I look forward to his next case...
Historical sleuthing finally gets its grown-up trousers . . . It shows a thorough understanding of time and place, and has a dark heart. Finally, someone has taken on Saylor and Davis and brought us out of Rome at last!
I loved it; great sense of place, terrific characters and a cracking plot
As vivid and lively as a Greek wedding - but with rather more blood! -
If you like C J Sansom's Tudor sleuth Matthew Shardlake, you'll love this - a gripping murder mystery set in a fantastically fully-realised ancient Athens, which will keep you guessing to the very end
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.