Champion of the Dead

Written by Patrick Hatten
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Ancient Athens is the setting for this murder mystery solved by a welcome new sleuth, Idas, a metic (half-citizen). As such, our hero can involve himself with a wide breadth of characters, from the privileged to servant classes. He is wise enough to team up with Thales, a well-educated slave. The body belongs to the champion of the title, Lamachus, a boxer. His spirit haunts the story as Idas discovers both the killer and the true nature of the man he worshipped.

Along the way, the atmosphere of the time and place is wonderfully evoked with telling details, from the wrestlers’ “almond-eyed boys” to hair scented for a funeral and the hubbub of the ancient marketplace. It’s nice to discover that some things never change, too, like hairdressers who have the dirt on everyone.

A hearty welcome to a new historical mystery hero. Here’s hoping that this is the first of many adventures for Hatten’s Idas.