By Barbara Cleverly, $15.00, 416 pages

10Barbara Cleverly’s A Darker God is a surprising read. This murder mystery is set in 1928 Greece, where it begins with Clytemnestra standing poised to stab the corpse that already is ripe with human blood. Confusion is lifted once the reader sorts through the mythological characters and the characters rehearsing a Greek tragedy. They may be one and the same; murder is the common factor.  Laeticia, a suspected innocent, is set loose to identify the murderer, and uncover Greek history at the risk of her own life. The characters share love endings and barely passionate friendships, but the banter is fulfilling enough like a James Bond movie. Be careful of thinking that this story has a surface plot; what appears as cliché as the “Clue” game (the murder weapon? the room? the housekeeper? the boot boy?), this story is not what it appears. The reader and the heroine are sternly grabbed by the inspector, “Don’t assume you know me on two minutes acquaintance, miss!” This is a deeper read than fiction.  It is theatric hysteria in and off the stage. This story is about cyclic sacrifice. It cleverly manages to twist everything together in the end: theatrics, history, archaeology, politics and genocide …oh my, I had no idea. This double murder reflects what historical fiction is about. The dark is illuminated when the ritual of wine and blood co-mingle into the earth. This book is certainly worth the read at least for the tragic empathy.

Reviewed by Sarafina Botechelli