Wednesday, June 11, 2008

You can't go back to Constantinople

We have the latest installment in an enjoyable mystery series about John, Lord Chamberlain for the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (sounds intriguing, doesn't it?). The latest book - Seven for a Secret - involves John investigating the murder of a girl from a mosaic. The mosaic just happens to be in his private study, and the somber-eyed girl in the picture has been his silent confidante for many years. When he encounters her on his morning walk, and then finds her battered corpse the next day, he is driven to find out more about her identity and her killer. There is a hefty dose of palace intrigue, Byzantine politics and the squalor of daily life in a city that has just been ravaged by plague. If you have not tried this series, written by the husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, then I suggest starting with the first book: One for Sorrow. Their latest book assumes that the reader is familiar with the characters, their histories and their relationships not only with one another but with Justinian and his sinister Empress Theodora. Seven for a Secret might be confusing for someone plunging into the series cold, but this is definitely a set of books worth reading. The setting is wonderful, the lead characters are interesting and there are always a fair number of twists and turns to the plot. The series has a feel similar to that of Steven Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series with Gordianus the Finder. If you enjoyed those classical Roman mysteries, you will certainly enjoy John the Lord Chamberlain.

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