I don't usually write reviews, but since this novel is not just a novel, but also a love letter to Classical Athens, I feel in this instance you will all understand why I am COMPELLED to do so. And I know also that you'll forgive me for not being GOOD at writing them.
Gary Corby's The Pericles Commission brings Athens to life. More importantly (to me, as someone who believes that everyone should have a fundamental education in Classical Studies) Mr. Corby approaches the history and the time period in a way that will be accessible to anyone, whether they have any knowledge of that time period or not. The entire novel is a great hook for people who might be vaguely interested in ancient Greece, but don't want to be bothered reading primary source documents or non-fiction because it's boring.*
Gary sifts through the dry details of history and raises to the surface all the fascinating anecdotes that turn academic reading into PEOPLE who we can identify with and root for. People who lived and walked the streets, with motivations we can understand, and struggling against the same things we do, today. And not only that, but people with a sense of humor too!
The Pericles Commission follows Nico as he takes on an investigation that throws him into the political pool of Athens at the deep end before he really knows how to swim. I can't judge the quality of the mystery (this was the first mystery novel I've read, to be honest. I know, I know. I'm sorry!), but I can tell you that I had no idea who the killer was until the end, and following the characters and their relationships while they figured it out (and struggled to keep their heads above water in the process) was fascinating and fun!
If you have anyone mildly interested in Classical history in your family, do pick up The Pericles Commission for them this Christmas.
*I don't think it's boring at all, personally, but that's because like Gary (I can say this with absolute confidence after reading his book even if I did not already know), I am devoted to it.