book reviews

Book Review: The Singer From Memphis

The Singer from Memphis (The Athenian Mysteries #6)The Singer from Memphis

by Gary Corby

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

View all my reviews

Gary Corby’s  latest Athenian Mystery, The Singer From Memphis (Soho Crime 2016) is–again–wonderful. Husband-and-wife Nicolaus and Diotima set out to provide safe passage for Herodotus (yes, the famous ancient Greek historian) as he travels to dangerous areas of ancient Egypt to research his first history book. Along the way, they wage a battle against pirates, are rescued by triremes, run into old enemies who might become friends, avoid death by a varied number of adversaries, and solve a long-standing mystery.  The entire story is told in a modern voice (time-traveled to Ancient Greece) with a wit that avoids what could otherwise be a dry unfolding of historic events.

Corby’s historic voice is refreshingly modern and consummately readable:

“Every man, woman, and child in this city… don’t want to be governed… They want to be left alone … Have you ever noticed how cheap it is to rule a law-abiding citizen who just wants to be left alone? I love citizens like that.”

One of my favorite parts is how Corby shows that in some ways, life hasn’t changed in two thousand years. Here is one of the characters complaining that life was better when he was a child:

“In the old days, gentlefolk of distinction would gather here in our lounge… Try doing that with these new rich. They walk in and expect to be served quickly. They demand a mausoleum bigger than their neighbors, then complain about anything that costs more than a coffin of paper mache. ... How I yearn for those past times.”

The characters are well-researched as are the settings and the history. I particularly love that Corby includes Author’s Notes detailing the history and where he took artistic license, as well as a glossary to define those ancient words no longer in use.

I’ve read every book in the series (see my review of Death Ex Machina here) and eagerly await the next.

Note to Gary: I finished this in two days. Can you write the next one faster?

More historic novels:

Tongwan City

Desert God

Gates of Fire

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer,  a columnist for TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. You can find her book at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning.

18 thoughts on “Book Review: The Singer From Memphis

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    • I think Gary has gotten 5/5 on every book I’ve read of his. The nice thing is, he always acknowledges my reviews with a RT or a comment–and so does his agent, Janet Reid. Pretty cool how small the world is sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. An excellent review, Jacqui and it’s great with the quotes you included – they give a real feel for the book and not at all what I would have expected. The writing flows and it’s as if the narrator is talking directly to me. Hoping you’re having a lovely weekend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This entire series is that. I read some of the background (because he makes all this ancient history so interesting) and it’s connected well for students of ancient Greece as well as us armchair readers.


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