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Friday 11 September 2015

‘Death Ex Machina’ by Gary Corby

Published by Soho Crime,
19 May 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-61695-519-9

Every year the people of Athens hold the Great Dionysia, the arts festival in honour of the god Dionysos, god of the theatre and wine. This year there is a problem, a ghost is haunting the theatre, playing malicious jokes and disrupting rehearsals. Nicolaos is the only private investigator in Athens, which means that he and Diotima, his wife and partner in sleuthing, are employed to get rid of the disruption. They attempt to calm the superstitious fears of the actors and stage-hands by performing a cleansing ritual. With the help of the High Priest of Dionysos they exorcise the ghost. However, they suspect a human agency is responsible and keep a sharp look out for saboteurs. Despite their efforts, one actor is badly injured and another dies. The theatre is declared impure and the Festival cannot go ahead until Nico and Diotima discover the killer and the theatre can be cleansed by his punishment. With the honour of Athens resting on his shoulders, Nico has to go to extraordinary lengths and stage a very unusual theatrical entertainment of his own.

Death Ex Machina is the fifth in the Athenian Mystery series. It is a compelling read, with swift action, engaging characters and a complex, well-plotted storyline. Above all it is extremely funny. Contemporary issues are put into an ancient Athenian context, not least the age-old dispute about whether wine or beer is the best alcoholic drink. I especially admire the skill with which the author mixes real historical characters with fictional and makes them all equally credible. While watching a television documentary about Socrates, I found my mind being drawn back to Corby's version: 'Socrates. An irritant. Brother of Nico.'
Death Ex Machina is a page-turner and I whole-heartedly recommend it.
Reviewer: by Carol Westron

Gary Corby has long been fascinated by ancient history, finding it more exciting and bizarre than any modern thriller. He's combined the ancient world with his love of whodunits, to create an historical mystery series set in classical Greece. Gary lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two daughters. He blogs at A Dead Man Fell from the Sky, on all things ancient, Athenian, and mysterious.

More information is at


Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her second book About the Children was published in May 2014.

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