The Mosaic of Shadows

Written by Tom Harper
Review by Trudi E. Jacobson

This exciting mystery takes place in Constantinople in 1096. Demetrios Askiates, unveiler of mysteries, is asked to investigate the attempted assassination of the Emperor. The bungled attempt has killed a guardsman, and the tool of his death is an arrow unlike one ever seen before, one that is able to pierce armor. Demetrios is hired by Krysaphios, the Emperor’s Chamberlain, and soon finds himself investigating some of Constantinople’s elite, when he is not prowling its slums for clues. He has close contact with Sigurd, leader of the Emperor’s Varangian guard, and meets Anna, a skilled physician and a most determined woman, when he saves the life of a young man being hacked to death by a Bulgar. While he is investigating, a mammoth army of Crusaders from the west, requested by the Emperor to take back Byzantine lands in the east, arrives at the city gates. I found the plot and the characters fascinating. Constantinople was a veritable melting pot of people from many countries, and their interactions and prejudices came to life. I hope this is the start of a long series.