Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Death Ex Machina (The Athenian Mysteries, #5)” as Want to Read:
Death Ex Machina (The Athenian Mysteries, #5)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Death Ex Machina

(The Athenian Mysteries #5)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  264 ratings  ·  42 reviews
A theatrical murder sends classical Athens into uproar.

It's the time of the Great Dionysia, the largest arts festival of the ancient world, held each year in honor of Dionysos, the god of wine. But there's a problem: A ghost is haunting Athens's grand theater.

Nicolaos and his clever partner in sleuthing (and now in matrimony), the priestess Diotima, are hired to rid the th
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 19th 2015 by Soho Crime
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  264 ratings  ·  42 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Mar 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I discovered Gary Corby's ancient Greece novels after reading Wilbur Smith's 'Desert God' about ancient Egypt. It made me hunger for more on the lives of people before technology took over. Corby's five-installment series, based in the world's first democracy around 450 B.C., stars Athenian detectives Nicolaos and Diotima, The ongoing story of their adventures (and misadventures) and daily life is fun and engaging, with authentic detail about a long-gone era. An Afterword section discusses the h ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: whodunnit
Of the five so far, my least favorite. The mystery itself was overly convoluted and the book itself felt waaay overlong. Sometimes the book doesn't seem to know if it's light romantic comedy with like Nico and Diotima standing in for Bill Powell & Myrna Loy, or historical primer--occasionally it can succeed doing both, but not quite so much here for me.

Also, it could just be me reading all five of these books in a relative short span of time, and it stood out a bit to me in this one. Invest
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
A splendid addition to Gary Corby's series of mysteries set in Periclean Athens. The plot moves along so swiftly, and the characterization is so adroit, that you seldom realize how much actual history you're imbibing along with the fiction.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a solid book. Characters might be a bit too shallow, but they still have some depth. What's given is what naturally flows with the book. A little confused as to why Diotima stays behind unexlained. I figured it out, but Nico is so thurough with explaining everything, that I was surprised it wasn't. I think it passes the bechdel test under some people's standards, but not everyone's (including my own strict ones).

Historically accurate, from what I can see. A little disappointed with the auth
Clemens Schoonderwoert
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This splendid book by Gary Corby is already the 5th outing of this Athenian mystery series.
The historical details about this Classical Greek period are very well researched by the author, for the book has been included with a very informative Authors Note and Glossary.
The story is set in the year 458 BC and it was done so especially to get three very imporant historical men within this book and thus making this tale more noticable, and those men are, Aeschylus in his final year, Sophocles in his
Cel Jel
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written in a light humorous style that may annoy some this book includes the 'first investigator' in Athens solving a case where the theatrical competition the Great Dionysius is threatened. The book gives an insight into greek society at the start of Athens being a democracy, the type of relationships between the city states of Greece, and the history of theatre, with playwrights that we have heard of, and looking at the different types of plays.
Well worth reading if you do not have knowledge
Jane Irish Nelson
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, mystery
The festival of the Great Dionysia is about to begin, but one of the plays has been hit with a series of mishaps. So much so that the actors believe the theater is haunted. Pericles asks Nico to investigate, so even though he does not believe in ghosts, he has the High Priest of Dionysos and his own wife Diotima perform an exorcism. But then one of the actors is murdered, and Nico and Diotima must not only search for the killer, but also determine why he was killed. Excellent mystery, with a fas ...more
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Death Ex Machina kept me intrigued. It was so simple to follow through, and offered plenty of options to try and solve the mystery in my own mind, which is always entertaining to attempt while away from the book. Gary Corby delivered exactly what a mystery novel should, and in the end, even provided a bit of a history lesson on the Greek and their terms, which I truly appreciated. My only complaint is the lack of depth in many of the characters, but I will still be reading the other installments ...more
Sylvia Dugan
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoy the historical details of ancient Greece that the the author includes in his stories. I like the two main characters of Nico and Diotima as well as the minor ones that keep appearing in the series.

This was an interesting story centered on the world of theater in Athens, but I felt it moved a bit too slowly to get to the resolution of the mystery. Nonetheless, I look forward to the next bokk in The Athenian Mysteries series.
Brian Carney
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
An enjoyable read with pleasant characters and some interesting twists and some fun insights into life in classical Athens and into the theatre.
One fun quibble - fans of Euripides (like me) may disagree with Corby's readings of his plays.
One more serious quibble - the investigation lacks momentum. That's a generic challenge. The sleuth is really just wandering from suspect to suspect, interview to interview, but this mystery feels like it hots the wall a few too many times.
Tara Calaby
This was a fun read and more humorous than I generally expect crime fiction to be. I struggled a bit at first with the simplicity of Corby's writing style, but was eventually drawn in by the plot. The cast is a real who's who of ancient Athens, which would be grating in a more serious book but works okay here. I did, however, dislike the meta jokes that are only amusing in a modern context, as I found that they took me right out of the book.
Luke Cullen
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I love these books. The plots are a bit like Scooby doo mysteries but the real joy of these books are the little details and locations from Ancient Athens.

It also helps that Nico and Diotima have retained their ‘funness’ since the start of the series. I find the main characters of series, particularly historical fiction series, can become quite annoying over time but that hasn’t occur yet.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent. Can't wait for the next one.
Chelsea Langston
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
what can I say? Ive read the first 4 books, and they always keep me wanting more. everytime I end one book I'm excited to see where the next book will take them on the next adventure.
Mary K.
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Now that the main characters are married, the tension I so enjoyed is gone. But still enjoyed learning about ancient Athens, just not as much as the prior books in the series.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I am thoroughly enjoying the glimpse into Greek history while trying to sort through the mystery.
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting fictional glimpse into historic Athens.
Cathy Cole
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I can always count on Gary Corby to make me feel right at home in ancient Athens. This time Greek drama played an integral part in the story, and it was fascinating to learn the important role it played in the ancient world.

With the start of the Great Dionysia looming on the horizon, all those concerned come up with an ingenious way to buy time for the investigation. (Would that we could do the same today!) Corby's mystery is an absorbing one because the first thing Nicolaos has to do is find o
Karen A. Wyle
Mar 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book, but I found it the weakest (so far) in a series I generally like very much.

First, to recap what I like about the series: the historical background, the lively tone, the ingenuous yet basically talented investigator Nico, his equally talented and somewhat more practical partner in detection Diotima, and the presence of Socrates as Nico's annoying yet frequently helpful little brother.

I'm interested enough in ancient Greek theater that I both enjoyed the details provided and w
Sep 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, greece, mystery
Another enjoyable episode in this series. Corby does a great job evoking ancient Athens while completely avoiding tedious pedantry; and he has his characters speaking in normal English without it seeming jarring or out of place.

The mystery in this episode is the sabotage of one of the plays being put on at the festival of Dionysius, and the murder of one of the actors in that play. The two events are seemingly related, though Nico and Diotima are smart enough not to assume that they definitely a
Sep 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I thought this was an interesting premise for a mystery. It is set in ancient Athens, during the festival of Dionysos. A number of famous Athenian playwrights - Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides - are an integral part of the story as the plot revolves around the great Athenian theatre.

The characters were fairly well fleshed out and the plot was fully evolved. At the end of the story there was a great plot surprise as well, a surprise that was believable and worked with the story. There were t
May 24, 2015 rated it liked it
This time the focus is on Athenian theatre and peoples' relationship with the gods. Once again lots of clever little bits of business familiar in our modern world that had (or might have had) origins in classical Greece, especially but not limited to theatrical superstition and terminology. While there was a little coverage of Nico's personal life I would have liked a little more on that front. There was a scene before the solution to the main crime where I realized who the perp would be but it ...more
David Usharauli
Gary Corby's Athenian mystery series are very entertaining series about ancient Greece. I read all five of them and highly recommend them.

Gary Corby's portrayal of ancient Greece (~455 BC) is very interesting for educational point of view and easy to read. The series are mostly written for middle school students who are just starting to learn more about world history (but anyone can benefit from it).

The series' main characters are fictional private investigator, Nicolaos, his wife Diotima and h
Jane Bigelow
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is another great adventure in ancient Athens. We're in the world of the theatre this time, where Athens is the best. As they prepare for the Festival of Dionysus, one of the actors is found dead. Nico and Diotima's efforts to protect the rest are not, at the start, successful. If the entire festival has to be cancelled--and it might, given the religious prohibitions involving death in the presence of the gods--Athenians will look like fools before all the known world.

There's plenty of good
Vicki Cline
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Bad things are happening at the theater where a play is being prepared for the Great Dionysia, a festival to honor the god Dionysus. Pericles commissions Nicolaos to find out what's going on. Not long after the start of the investigation, one actor is badly injured and another one is killed. We get to learn a lot about theater in ancient Greece and the treatment of metics, foreign non-citizens in Athens.
Lance Wright
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed-titles
This is an entertaining entry in this historical series written in a contemporary manner, but the murder mystery plot is very thin, indeed. An attempt at misdirection generally falls flat, though in principle the guiding premise is an interesting question to ponder. Best for fans of the series, not first time readers. Read our full review, here:
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I like this series. Corby has a good imagination on how to set up a mystery in a very ancient time period and have the detectives (for both Nicolaus and Diotima solve it) solve it w/o all the technology that we have today. The two young people are appealing and very much in love; the other characters, especially the three great playwrights, are well drawn. Corby works in seamlessly other aspects of classical Athenian life, e.g. the worship of Dionysus and of Sabazius. A nice, amusing romp!
Jun 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: mysteries
Part of my "Never Start in the Middle" group. This one, I will definitely look for the earlier books. It's set in ancient Greece, around the time of Pericles. Aeschylus and Euripides are minor characters. The story revolves around a death in a theatre during revels dedicated to Dionysus. The main character is Socrates' older brother. The mystery is interesting. The historical research is well done, without being an info-dump. I liked the writing style as well.
Diane Close
Jan 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
If you have an interest in theater, you'll likely enjoy this book very much! I have both an interest in theater and an interest in history, so I definitely enjoyed it, despite a few plotting flaws here and there. The surprise solution to the murder, being sprung out of nowhere, was a bit of a disappointment, but the explanation did fit (even if its arrival was a bit convoluted), and it also acted as a play off the title, being pretty much a deus ex machina all by itself.
Dec 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Gary Corby never fails to entertain and (dare I say it?) inform me. Ancient Greece comes alive with detectives Nico and Diotima as they investigate murder and mayhem with a mix of fictional and historical characters getting underfoot.

I'm never disappointed and am already looking forward to their next adventure.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Mars the Avenger (A Judge Marcus Flavius Severus Mystery in Ancient Rome, #1)
  • Neither Five Nor Three
  • Aristotle Detective (Aristotle #1)
  • Leonidas of Sparta: A Boy of the Agoge (Leonidas of Sparta Trilogy, #1)
  • Legacy of Blood (Spartan Warrior, #3)
  • Specimen Song (Gabriel Du Pre #2)
  • Over the Wine-Dark Sea (Hellenic Traders, #1)
  • Spartans at the Gates (The Warrior Trilogy, #2)
  • Tyrant: Destroyer of Cities (Tyrant, #5)
  • Oracle of the Dead (SPQR, #12)
  • Arminius: The Limits of Empire
  • The Oracles of Troy (Adventures of Odysseus, #4)
  • Master and God
See similar books…
I'm the author of the Athenian Mysteries.

Nicolaos, the ambitious son of a minor sculptor, walks the mean streets of Classical Athens as an agent for the promising young politician Pericles.

Murder and mayhem don't faze Nico; what's really on his mind is how to get closer (much closer) to Diotima, the intelligent and annoyingly virgin priestess of Artemis, and how to shake off his irritating 12 yea

Other books in the series

The Athenian Mysteries (7 books)
  • The Pericles Commission (The Athenian Mysteries, #1)
  • The Ionia Sanction (The Athenian Mysteries, #2)
  • Sacred Games (The Athenian Mysteries, #3)
  • The Marathon Conspiracy (The Athenian Mysteries, #4)
  • The Singer from Memphis (The Athenian Mysteries #6)
  • Death on Delos (The Athenian Mysteries, #7)