Murder in Megara: A John the Lord Chamberlain Mystery
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen, Oct 6 2015, $26.95
Following his banishment from Constantinople by Emperor Justinian, former Lord Chamberlain John the Eunuch, accompanied by his beloved Cornelia and their two loyal servants Peter and Hypatia, return to his family estate near Megara, Greece. In the agora, fears of the once mighty government bigwig’s return and enhanced by an oracular fowl lead to almost all wanting John to leave before his enemies cause havoc on the villagers. In the marketplace, a coward emphasizes that contention by throwing a rock that hits Hypatia.
John quickly realizes his estate overseer Diocles and others have been stealing from him. Upset he fires Diocles; who shows no remorse but instead tells his former employer that he will be here long after John is exiled from his home or worse. Not long after John’s confrontation with Diocles, City Defender Georgios accuses him of murdering his stepfather Theophilus as a “sacrifice” in the nearby temple; John loathed Theophilus. Soon after that, the homicide of Diocles also points to John as the killer.
The eleventh (and first unnumbered) refreshing John the (former) Lord Chamberlain murder mystery (see Ten for Dying) is an excellent transitional whodunit. The investigative storyline captures the essence of mid sixth-century Greece; while providing insight into the protagonist’s estranged relationships with family and neighbors.