Death Ex Machina

Written by Gary Corby
Review by Judith Starkston

Gary Corby has delivered another delightful mystery set in Classical Greece. He combines intriguing historical details with a dry sense of humor. Nicolaos and Diotima are at home in Athens, married now and still finding plenty of trouble. A ghost is reported to be sabotaging the Great Dionysian plays. Pericles hires Nicolaos to orchestrate a sham removal of said ghost—which neither of them believes is present. However, serious villainy strikes and then murder, sacrilegious and totally embarrassing for the powers that be.

The cancellation of the festival has widespread diplomatic and military implications—all bad, and the pressure on Nicolaos to find who is at the heart of the crimes grows. Trips to the surrounding countryside (you’ll love these excursions that reveal daily life while keeping us moving along with the plot) gradually reveal a matrix of possible villains. You won’t know who done it until everyone does, and that’s a riot—in both senses of the word. Corby manages to make ancient mayhem hilariously funny while deadly dangerous.