The Ionian Sanction is the second in Gary Corby's very interesting ancient Greek mysteries series.
Thorion, the proxenos (agent) for Ephesus (a Hellenic city in the Persian Empire) in fifth-century Athens, is dead. Very dead. His body is hanging from the ceiling of his office in his Athens home, where he is found by Pericles. Pericles had received a note from Thorion which seemed to say that he had committed treason against Athens. But it soon becomes apparent that all is not as it seems at the death scene.
Pericles calls in the investigator Nicolaos, whom he had used once before, to look into the death. Nico quickly discovers that Thorion did not die hanging from the ceiling. He was already dead when he was put there. Who killed him? Why? Did it have something to do with Thorion's supposed treason? He was the agent for Ephesus. Did the cause of the murder emanate from there?
Pericles is nothing if not decisive and he decides on the spot to have Nico to investigate further. In the course of his investigation he will go to Ephesus to interview the proxenos of Athens there and to see if he can get to the bottom of what has happened.
Before leaving for Ephesus, Nico uncovers the probable murderer of Thorion, a man called Araxes, and has a marathon fight and race with him, but Araxes manages to escape both Nico and Athens. Nico follows a lead to the slave market where he sees a beautiful teenage girl about to be sold to a brothel - the girl who had accompanied Araxes to Athens. He buys the girl and soon learns that she is the daughter of Themistocles, the hero who had once saved Athens from the Persians only later to be ostracized and condemned for treason. He had fled to the Persians and had ultimately become the Great King's satrap in Magnesia, which is near Ephesus. Ephesus, also it turns out, is the place that the love of Nico's life had fled to after Nico's father refused permission for their marriage because she was the daughter of a hetaera, the mistress of the man whose murder Nico had investigated in The Pericles Commission. So, on to Ephesus!
Gary Corby has shown a knack for recreating a believable fifth-century Athens and the ancient world of that time. His interweaving of the actual personages of the period, well-known to us from history, people like Pericles and Themistocles, with his own creations like Nico is seamless and is a fascinating way of revealing the history of those times. Ancient Greece has long been an interest of mine and this series is one of the best things to come along for this reader of historical mysteries in quite some time. One of my favorite parts of the book is the extensive historical notes at the end of the book where one can see many parallels between those times and our own. Good stuff!