Ten For Dying-Mary Reed and Eric Mayer

Ten For Dying
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen, Mar 4 2014, $24.95
ISBN: 9781464202278

In 548 Constantinople, Emperor Justinian deeply grieves the death of his beloved wife Empress Theodora. He recently fired John as the Lord Chamberlain following his loyal aid’s investigation, made at the Emperor’s demand into the Empress’ death, as Justinian rejected the finding (see Nine For The Devil).

At the Church of the Holy Apostles, a fragment of the burial cloth of the Lord’s mother has gone missing. Justinian assigns Palace Guard Captain Felix to look into the theft. Felix persuades his friend disgraced John to help him. Church cleaner Mada and her husband lamp lighter Peterios tell the pair that the lights were extraordinary low; a bad odor putrefied the air, frogs appeared and demons ran amuck taking the relic with them. Felix feels unprepared to act on his own with the fallen John leaving for Greece in exile. Besides dealing with his gambling debt, his family and his new mistress Anastasia, Felix must also look into how a corpse was left at his house. Matters turn ugly as several people apparently want at a minimum Felix to fail and preferably die.

Though series fans are used to the shrewd John the Eunuch running the show, Ten For Dying is an exciting entry made fresh by Felix and Anastasia who proves more than a mistress. Felix struggles with the twisted case in which many want to possess the holy relic and him dead; with the lethal politics including from the capricious mourning emperor; and with his even more convoluted personal life. Readers will enjoy this apparent new path that Mary Reed and Eric Mayer has taken on, but also hope our favorite eunuch has a second coming perhaps in Greece.

Harriet Klausner

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