Sunday, January 8, 2012

Nine for the Devil-Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Nine for the Devil

Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Poisoned Pen, Mar 6 2012, $24.95

ISBN 9781590589946

In 548 in Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire, Empress Theodora has died from a terrible illness. However, her husband Emperor Justinian, twenty years her senior, believes otherwise that someone murdered his spouse by poisoning her.

He directs lord chamberlain John to investigate his wife’s death with the warning of finding her killer or he and his family will face the same consequences Justinian plans for Theodora’s murderer. John knows that the empress died of natural causes from a debilitating disease as few had access to the Empress. Still though a doubting Thomas, he analyzes who of the many with motives at the castle had both access and major gains with Theodora out of the way. He narrows the list to a few powerful people with deep grudges against the royal couple, but remains skeptical that a homicide occurred as opportunity is limited to Gaius the royal physician and food servicing servants to have delivered poison.

The latest John the Lord Chamberlain sixth century Constantinople mystery (see Eight for Eternity) is a great entry that combines a strong whodunit with a puissant look at the period mostly inside the place but somewhat also through the heroes’ friends and family outside too. The palace politics engages the audience as the norm is superstition (for instance the Emperor is a demon), backstabbing and betrayal. John knows the urgency of his mission as time is running out on him and his loved ones with Justinian demanding the head of his wife’s killer. With a moral dilemma to hand over someone or else, fans will enjoy John’s latest adventures in the palace of Emperor Justinian.

Harriet Klausner

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