The Fugitive From Corinth

Written by Caroline Lawrence
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

80 AD Corinth. This Caroline Lawrence’s tenth Roman mystery, and the young detectives, Nubia, Flavia, Lupus and Jonathan, are in Corinth with Flavia’s father, the sea-captain Geminus. They are preparing to return to Rome when Geminus is brutally attacked and left for dead. Suspicion falls on Ariosto, Flavia’s Greek tutor, who is discovered clutching a dagger and covered in blood. He is caught but escapes.

                Flavia decides to track him down. She enlists the help of a reliable bodyguard, and the four children set off in pursuit. It should be easy enough to catch a man with bound hands, bare feet and a blood-stained tunic, but then they discover that Ariosto has a brother, Dion, who looks very similar .Which brother are they pursuing?

                Caroline Lawrence offers a fascinating glimpse into life in ancient Greece; we learn about the food, clothes, hostels, travel and so on, all integrated seamlessly into the story. We visit the oracle at Delphi, one of ancient Greece’s holiest sites, and see how the system worked – the manoeuvering to get to the front of the queue, the anger when the oracle’s reply seems to be gibberish, and so on.

                The trail ends in the Cave of the Furies in Athens, named after the goddesses of retribution. It is here that Flavia and Nubia find Ariosto and Dion and finally learn the dreadful truth. But is it too late? They are locked in the cave and the air is running out. ..

                This is a lively and painless way to learn about the Classical world and ‘Ariostos scroll’ at the end helps with unfamiliar words and pronunciation. My one caveat is that the children’s characters are very thinly drawn, but doubtless the story is exciting enough to carry most young readers through. 9 plus.