Murder at the Panionic Games
A new entry in the ancient historical detective subgenre, Murder at the Panionic Games introduces us to Bias, a minor priest of Prirene in 650 B.C. Center of the Ionic League, Prirene is host to the Panionic Games in which (like the Olympics on mainland Greece) athletes from each of the member cities – Colophon, Miletus, Chios, Samos and others – meet to compete. However, something goes terribly wrong at the opening ceremonies and the greatest of Prirene’s athletes is poisoned. It falls to Bias, who has been polluted by his contact with the athlete’s dead body, to rid himself of that corruption by solving the murder.
Life in Ionic Greece – its traditions, customs, daily activities – is folded seamlessly into the action. Frankly, my own ignorance about ancient Greek life intruded on my enjoyment of the book initially, but this was soon resolved in favor of liking Bias and going along for the ride. As a character, I found Bias a bit less compelling than some of the other ancient detectives with whom I’m familiar. However, for historical accuracy and impeccable detail, this is worth reading.