Title: The Ionia Sanction
Author: Gary Corby
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Historical Mystery
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
After the events of The Pericles Commission, Nicoloas is thrilled by his new job as a private investigator. That is, until Pericles charges him with a new task – to solve the murder of an Athenian official, as well as to decipher a cryptic note left behind. Pericles is a demanding boss, and Nico is lost without his girlfriend’s help – after his father rejected their prospective marriage, Diotima fled to Ephesus. Now, as Nico’s search takes him to that city and beyond, he must use all his wits to determine the truth and tie together all the mysteries that have sprung up.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Pericles Commission, so I was thrilled to pick up its sequel The Ionia Sanction. Once again, Nico is an endearing, if bumbling character. He is smart, but nothing ever seems to go his way. Time and time again, he is caught in the most difficult of situations, and often they are of his own making. The genius of Nico is that there is a sharp intelligence behind the clumsy personality; his powers of deduction are admirable and he has improved his skills since the first book, able to make connections on his own now instead of relying on Diotima.
I was thoroughly impressed by the amount of research that went into this book and its historical accuracy. The author’s note at the end of the book goes on for pages and pages, as Corby discusses his inspirations, research, and the facts behind The Ionia Sanction. This book is so well researched that, at one point, Nico hides in a brothel while in Ephesus. Corby details the location of that brothel in the actual city, noting that it was actually at that place and readers can visit it in the ruins of Ephesus. This amount of detail was simply stunning to me, and it made Corby’s vivid descriptions and wonderful sense of place extra impressive.
The mystery in The Ionia Sanction is an interesting one concerning a “proxenos”, the concept of which I found absolutely fascinating. In Ancient Greece, instead of having a diplomat from another country/empire/etc. come live in your city and represent that place’s interest, a citizen from your own city with a tie to that foreign country would represent their interests in the city. It’s a very interesting twist, and provides much fodder for the mystery. There are many characters to keep straight in this book, and sometimes the plot can become confusing, but overall, it’s a gripping and engaging mystery that readers will enjoy.
I was so pleased to find that The Ionia Sanction really lived up to The Pericles Commission’s promise. It’s amusing, very interesting, and the mystery will keep readers hooked from beginning to end. I really love the Nico series, especially because of how much I learn about Ancient Greece from Corby. I hope he continues to write this series for a good long while.