Five for Silver
The year is 542 and the setting, once again, is Constantinople – this time, beset by plague and political turmoil. The Lord Chamberlain to Justinian, John, learns that the oldest friend of his aged and devoted servant, Peter, has been found stabbed to death. Although Peter, a devout Christian, believes that Gregory was a fine and equally devout religious man, John’s investigation into Gregory’s murder casts doubts in John’s mind about Gregory’s honesty and decency. Did Peter ever really know Gregory? Who was Gregory – really? Other deaths – some from plague, some not – are implicated.
In the course of his investigation, John rubs elbows with all strata of Constantinople’s society – a court poet, a shady dealer in antiquities, a holy fool who dances with the dead and a charitable lawyer, to name but a few. The death of Gregory is convoluted and ultimately involves the lives of all these characters in one way or another – vintage Reed and Mayer!
The authors never seem content simply to present a dilemma and then give us a resolution. They weave and interweave their plot, sub-plots and counter-plots. They ensure that we are subtly, yet consistently immersed in the times. Occasionally humorous, sometimes metaphysical but never boring, the Reed/Mayer books are a must read for those interested in historical mysteries and particularly with the history of this era.