bookshelves: published-2014, net-galley, e-book, winter-20132014, historical-fiction, mystery-thriller, series
Read from January 18 to 27, 2014
Netgalley/Poisoned Pen Press
Description: Ambition, intrigue, treachery, murder—another Byzantine mystery…. 548 CE. It’s a hot summer night in Constantinople. Emperor Justinian is mourning his dead wife, Theodora. John, his Lord Chamberlain, has been exiled. And at the Church of the Holy Apostles, an Egyptian magician tries to raise the Empress from the dead while demons vanish into the darkness with one of the city's holiest relics, a fragment of the shroud of the Virgin. As if Felix, Captain of the Palace Guard, didn't have enough problems already what with his gambling debts, political maneuverings, and an ambitious new mistress, Justinian orders him to find the missing relic. Before Felix can begin, someone deposits an anonymous corpse at his house. An attempt to dispose of the body goes wrong, leaving Felix in the frame. And a former madam turned leader of a religious refuge, a wealthy and famous charioteer, a general's scheming wife, and a man who wears so many protective charms that he jingles when he walks play their parts in the ensuing misdirection. It seems as if half the city wants to possess the relic, see Felix dead—or both. If only Felix's friend, the shrewd John, were still in the city, but the former Lord Chamberlain sailed for Greece with his wife the morning after the theft. Felix is left to fight for survival in a situation where he can't be sure who his enemies are, or even whether they are all human, while John lends a hand from afar.
Opening: At the deadest hour of a warm summer night, the door to the mausoleum behind the Church of the Holy Apostles opened with a creak resembling the short cry of a sleeper disturbed by a nightmare.
A jolly jape and a rollicking romp crammed full of storylines that's worth a solid, level 3*. The description says it all, however I will add that it is okay to jump in at any time during the series*, it doesn't seem to detract from enjoyment, so if you are looking for a fluffy, light adventure this could be it.
* Series previously published, beginning in the late '90s, as John the Eunuch.