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    Review of FIVE FOR SILVER by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer (see their website)


    Poisoned Pen Press, March 2004

    A plague is ripping through Constantinople during the reign of Justinian at the very beginning of the Byzantine Empire. So many people are dying that the Emperor has commissioned ships to be filled with bodies, towed to the harbor, and set ablaze. With so many dead, one more wouldn't seem to be a big deal. But John the Eunuch, Lord Chamberland to the Emperor, feels compelled to search for the killer of one man--a longtime friend and former soldier comrad of Peter, John's cook. According to Peter, an angel came, demanding vengence. While John follows Mithra rather than Christianity, he owes his faithful servant the investigation.

    In a city being emptied by plague and people fleeing the plague, it's hard to find witnesses but John establishes a possible connection. Gregory, the dead man, had recently witnessed a will. When other witnesses also turn up dead, it seems that John is onto something--but what.

    Authors Mary Reed and John Mayer (see more reviews of novels by Reed and Mayer) do a wonderful job depicting what was then the greatest and most powerful city in the world. The holy fool, the aspiring poets, the politically savvy and dangerous Empress Theodora, and especially John the Eunuch and his family really come to life.

    Reed and Mayer use the mosaic metaphor several times in their book and, in fact, present a bit of a mosaic of Constantinople. Not all of the crimes that John uncovers are connected to one another, but they are connected to the extended family that John has built in the new Rome. FIVE FOR SILVER is therefore a very personal story.

    John the Eunuch is one of the most entertaining of the historical mystery series being written today. If you haven't discovered it yet, you're in for a treat.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/30/04

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