Sunday, May 1, 2011
Ancient Greece for mystery-lovers... and for children
One of the elements I tried to maintain in what is in places quite a dark book - it contains several deaths and some murky social undertones - was the picture of a normal family coping with a desperate situation while trying to maintain their normality. There was no criminal investigation in ancient Greece, and it was the duty of the family to pursue an offender and bring cases to court, so Diokles is knocked sideways when his wife's uncle Makron, earning a living in town as a stonemason and living with his hypochondriac ex-slave mistress in Diokles' house, is hauled before a magistrate and accused of murdering his brother, an elderly farmer.
The book is set in 431 BC, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, a time of country folk abandoning their villages to cram themselves into every available living-space in Athens, of tensions and divided loyalties. The chain of events involves several murders and all the family becomes involved. Diokles bears the brunt of it, with his persistence, trading contacts and tendency to jump in with both feet, but Helike makes important contributions through her dealings with other wives and spiky encounters with another key figure, Melitta, a young Samian courtesan.
The difference in writing between the two? Not much, really. The Pig is much the more complex and has elements which children will not (probably should not) follow, but still qualifies as a 'cozy'. The parents are seen in a protective role in Athene Street, with the children to the front of the action, and nobody comes to much harm except the villain's dignity.
Both books are Smashwords titles, are available in all the usual formats and are scheduled to appear at the main ebook sellers as part of Smashwords' premium programme. All the details, summaries, buy links and excerpts are on my website, http://www.peteralanorchard.net/, and my Smashwords page.
Peter was born in Devon but now lives in Yorkshire. His stories are set in the ancient and medieval worlds ands so far include a historical mystery, a children's adventure and a collection of historical short stories.