Shadows of Athens

Written by JM Alvey
Review by Chiara Prezzavento

Imagine being a new playwright in 443 BC Athens, on the eve of having your comedy performed at the Dyonisia festival… Proud middle-class citizen Philocles is going through the thrill and terror of it – and really doesn’t feel the need for anything more on his plate; certainly not for the body of a murdered man dumped at his door. When the man turns out to have been an emissary from a disgruntled ally, Philocles brings the matter to his patron, wealthy aristocrat Aristarchos – and it is not long before something more sinister begins to emerge than a street robbery gone bad: who wants to stir trouble within the Delian League?

What a delightful book! Alvey vividly conveys the daily cares, passionate politics, and love of the arts of Athenians, as well as the highly competitive, religious and social nature of Greek theatre. Add a solid whodunit and a very engaging sleuth in Philocles, and you have the beginning of what promises to be a great new series.