Cover image for Murder at the Panionic Games
Murder at the Panionic Games
Edwards, Michael B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : Academy Chicago Publishers, 2002.

Physical Description:
260 pages ; 23 cm
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Set in the Greek city-state of Priene in 650 B.C., this fascinating murder mystery opens with Bias, the protagonist, being stalked by a murderer at the sacred grounds of the Panionion, the religious and political center of the Ionic League. As Bias crouches at the back of a cave, he recalls the events of the previous weeks which led him to his predicament. A minor priest, Bias assists at the opening of the Panionic Games by securing the blessing of Priene's reigning deity, Poseidon. But while the games are being blessed, Priene's best athlete is poisoned and dies in Bias's arms. The citizens perceive Bias to be infected by the "miasma of death" and he is challenged with the responsibility of finding the killer. As the Games progress, Bias is in the unenviable position of having to interrogate some very influential people and their families. The magistrates, athletes and aristocrats grow increasingly impatient with his murder investigation. When another favored athlete is killed in a chariot race, the pressure on Bias intensifies. Was it an accident? The athlete's uncle doesn't think so, and Bias himself is nearly killed before yet another victim is claimed. Finally, Bias sets a trap for the murderer on the sacred grounds of the Panionion and he finds a solution to these crimes in the darkness of the cave where the action began. Told with wit and authentic period color, this is an unusual mystery that readers will remember for its convincing plot and unique historic atmosphere.

Author Notes

Michael B. Edwards is a Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel whose tours of duty included England, Germany, and Turkey. He has personally visited every site in the Ionic League mentioned in this novel. He teaches in Charlotte, North Carolina where he lives with his wife Sylvia. They have three children.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Bias, Second Priest of the Poseidon Temple in the island city of Priene, off the coast of Greece in 650 B.C., is the guy who does all the work and gets none of the credit. Now he must figure out who poisoned young Tyrestes, an athlete in Priene for the Panionic Games, a festival to rival the mainland's Olympic Games. Young Bias, clever but unassuming, must first establish a motive. Was the killer a rival athlete, a rival lover, or someone else? The possibilities are numerous, and the stakes become much higher when a chariot driver is killed after his axle was partially cut in half. Bias, through true to his time, is a detective created from the same mold as John Lutz's Alo Nudger, a thoroughly likable nebbish who hates violence and fears his own shadow. The period detail is fascinating (especially the elaborate social structure), the plot clever, and the humor surprisingly contemporary but never anachronistic. Let's hope sequels are in the making. --Wes Lukowsky

Publisher's Weekly Review

Set in Greece in 650 B.C., this cleanly plotted tale featuring a young priest named Bias as detective is so simply told it might almost be aimed at the young adult market. The city-states of the Ionic Greek league have gathered their champions for a series of games, when a star athlete dies during the opening rites in the Panionion. This temple, where Bias serves as a subpriest, is where bulls are sacrificed to Poseidon and governing councils are held. Since his aristocratic family has fallen on difficult times, Bias labors to earn money to preserve their farmland and provide dowries for several sisters approaching marriageable age. When he and another athlete, Endemion, catch the poison victim as he collapses, Bias is infected by "the miasma or pollution created by a murder, especially on sacred ground." The belief is that this miasma might endanger the games and the city-state, and it is suggested that Bias has a strong personal interest in solving the crime, to "cure" himself of the murder taint. "In that case, why can't Endemion be your investigator?" the young priest protests. "He is as polluted as I am!" Aided by Duryattes, a household slave, Bias sets out to interview his suspects, all belonging to influential families. Another death, in a chariot race, soon complicates his quest. The motives for murder are nicely tied to the period, but overall Edwards doesn't approach the current level for ancient mysteries set by Steven Saylor and others who publish with mainstream houses. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved