Thursday 26 February 2009

Death Comes by Amphora by Roger Hudson

I have always been an avid reader of historical crime fiction especially those set in Rome, Greece and Egypt and I have being trying to find time to read Death comes by Amphora by Roger Hudson for quite some time now and have only recently managed to get round to doing so much to my dismay. This sub-genre has a big and loyal fan base and those books set in Athens and Rome appear to be amongst the most popular. Into this group has come Roger Hudson with his excellent debut novel Death Comes by Amphora.

Death Comes by Amphora is set in ancient Athens during 461 BC. It takes place at a time when the might of the Persian Empire has been driven back by the aristocratic General Kimon and a brand new Empire has been created by him for Athens. All is not well despite this as General Kimon soon finds himself battling for his political life and future against the extremist democratic reforms of the demagogue Ephialtes and his pushy ally Perikles. Into this mix comes na├»ve 18 year old Lysanias. Lysanias has been recalled back to Athens after receiving a mysterious message from his wealthy uncle. However on his arrival to his dismay he learns that not only has his uncle died rather mysteriously but that as his heir he is expected to marry his uncle’s widow who is a teenager. He suspicions are aroused and he believes that his uncle did not die as a result of an accident but was in fact murdered. Lysanias along with his elderly slave Sindron decide to get to investigate and find out how his uncle really died. As the two of them dig away trying to get to the truth they soon find themselves mixed up in the torrid world of Athenian politics, finance and religion and also the numerous enemies that his uncle made during his life time. Along with this he has to come to a decision as to what his political future is going to be.

There is a rather overwhelming cast of characters but the author has done the sensible thing and included a cast list. Furthermore despite the rather slow start and at times the overwhelming political information it soon moves at a fast clip and becomes quite absorbing. The dynamics between Lysanias and Sindron makes one think of the relationship between Holmes and Watson. Death Comes by Amphora is a classic murder mystery that is well worth reading and told from the different point of view of the various characters. You don’t have to be a classics student to enjoy this novel but if you are then you will certainly enjoy even more the amount of research that has gone into this book. It is clear from the way in which Death Comes by Amphora has been written that the author has a genuine love for classics, Athens and the socio-political situation that was taking place during the time. The scholarly research is certainly an asset to the storyline. Death Comes by Amphora is not only a pleasurable, atmospheric and illuminating read, but it is captivates a period of Athenian history amidst a historical political thriller and a tale of revenge. Be prepared for intrigue, political infighting and a fascinating look at Athenian life.

It will be interesting to see what Fraud Under the Akropolis is like. I certainly hope that it is as good as Death Comes by Amphora. Roger Hudson is certainly an author to keep your eye on.

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