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    JESTER LEAPS IN by Alan Gordon


    St. Martin's Minotaur, November 2000

    Largely recovered from a crossbow bolt in the leg, Jester Theophilos is sent to Constantanople to learn what has happened to the Jester's Guild members who had served in that city and are now vanished. Taking along his wife Viola, a Duchess and apprentice fool, Theophilos investigates and discovers the Jesters have been murdered because they discovered a plot against the Emperor. Who is behind the plot, its motivation is, and why the Emperor is still alive several months after the Jesters' deaths is harder to determine.

    Set during the approach of the Fourth Crusade (the crusade that ransacked the Christian Byzantine Empire for the benefit of Venice and never quite got around to fighting against pagans at all), JESTER LEAPS IN is a wonderful novel of intrigue, adventure, and humor. The premise that a Jesters' Guild played a role in medieval politics is clever and just possible enough to stir the imagination. Author Alan Gordon's descriptions (see more reviews of mysteries by Alan Gordon) of Byzantine plotting ring true and help explain the perpetual frustration of western Christians in dealing with the medieval Greeks.

    Both Theophilos and Viola are intriguing and multidimensional characters. Their relationship is loving without being overly sappy, and adds rather than detracts from the overall plot. Gordon's humerous touch lightens JESTER LEAPS IN highlighting the often dark subject matter.

    Four Stars

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