The Singer from Memphis
Gary Corby. Soho Crime
Early in Corby’s exceptional sixth novel set in ancient Greece (after 2015’s Deus Ex Machina ), Pericles, the most powerful man in Athens, asks Nicolaos, “the only private agent” in the city-state, to accompany the historian Herodotus on a trip to Egypt.
Ostensibly, Nicolaos will serve as a bodyguard, but his real mission is to aid Egyptians rebelling against Persian rule. The rebels’ leader, Inaros, who claims to be descended from the last pharaoh, has asked for a “man of cunning and resource” to help take the city of Memphis, the last stronghold controlled by the enemy.
Pericles shares his suspicions with Nicolaos that Herodotus may be a spy in the employ
of the Persians. Later, pirates almost scuttle the journey to Egypt, and Nicolaos nearly loses his client to a master Spartan assassin. Eventually, Nicolaos must solve a murder, but this is more spy thriller than whodunit.
Corby’s trademark blend of humor, fascinating historical detail, and accessible presentation of the politics of the time has never been better.
Janet Reid, FinePrint Literary. (May)