Death on Delos (Athenian Mystery)
by Gary Corby
Cover Artist: Stefano Vitale
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Soho Crime Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616958213
Date: 11 July 2017 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Just when I thought Ancient Greece couldn't get any stranger, Gary Corby writes, Death on Delos--his seventh installment in the Athenian Mystery series. Corby continues to blend historical fact with his zany fictional mysteries. The Isle of Delos still exists today. At the time of Nico, it was forbidden to die or give birth on this island. What if someone is about to die? They are thrown into a small rowboat and transported away from the island. Pregnant women are taken to the nearby island of Mykonos.
This novel is packed with interesting historical tidbits that are difficult to believe. I laughed aloud when I learned that men on Delos urinate on vegetables in order to help them grow. It is difficult to grow anything on Delos; the soil is very miserable. That is why the natives rely on the annual tributes and gifts that are paid to the deities. They would starve without them.
Accountants actually existed in Ancient Greece. Accountants kept track of the treasury of the Delian League. Readers learn these men must be extremely accurate. If funds are missing, accountants not only lose their jobs, they lose their lives. Also, keys, for the first time, are used on this island. These large, unwieldy, heavy devices lock up the temples in which the treasures are stored. Nico, who is always skeptical about modern technology, believes it would be best to employ guards instead of keys.
Furthermore, most readers have heard of Atlantis. Many historians believe it never existed. In Death on Delos, there is a mysterious land of Hyperborea that lies far to the north of Delos. Each year, the Hyperboreans sent a gift to Delos. It could never be determined exactly where it was coming from. Its origin was always cleverly disguised. According to historical scholars, such as Herodotus, Hyperborea actually existed.
Nico and Diotima make an extraordinary sleuthing team. One might say they are an ancient equivalent to Jonathan and Jennifer Hart of television's Hart to Hart. Nico and Diotima love each other and are always there for each other. Readers have seen them come a long way from their first mystery, The Pericles Commission. They were young people then, barely adults; now they will soon become parents. I've had the privilege of following their enchanting journey from the beginning. In Death on Delos, during their investigation they have assistance from some unusual characters, namely Philipos, the bumbling right-hand man to Pericles, and Damon, a happy-go-lucky farmer who never stops smiling, even in the face of danger. Speaking of danger. Towards the novel's end, there is a tremendous amount of danger. Readers, such as I, who crave violence, will be thrilled when marauders attack the island, killing many in primitive hand-to-hand combat.
Though Gary Corby's novels are set in Ancient Greece, they are easy to read. The language that the characters use is quite modern. The only difficult part is pronouncing some of the names. Corby aids the reader with a list of characters and his recommendation on how to pronounce them. For many names, there is no correct pronunciation. Readers may choose whatever they feel most comfortable with. Corby also goes out of his way to help readers by including a map of the island, a glossary, and a very detailed Author's Note in which he describes the actual historical events that occurred and the real people who lived in Ancient Greece. Readers can tell that Corby is very excited about Ancient Greece and possesses a treasure trove of knowledge about it.
Death on Delos ends with a joyful birth on Delos. It will have fans craving for the next installment in this highly recommended historical mystery series.