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Eight for Eternity: A John the Lord Chamberlain Mystery    by Mary Reed & Eric Mayer  Amazon.com order for
Eight for Eternity
by Mary Reed
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

As the title suggests, Eight for Eternity is the eighth adventure in the John the Lord Chamberlain series by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. We find John in the winter of the year 532 in Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire. Mob rule reigns rather than Emperor Justinian. Justinian considers himself a fair and compassionate ruler. Which might have been so, if not for his cruel and vindictive wife, Theodora.

The streets of Constantinople literally run with blood as the city's discontented populace race wildly through the lanes and alleyways, killing and burning as they go. John is given a task by the Emperor, one that he is finding difficult to carry out. He is also trying to keep various guests in his house alive during the rioting. John is known by another soubriquet John the Eunuch. Which accounts for his no longer having a wife. Cornelia left him, at his behest, to join a group of entertainers. He misses her and often thinks of her.

Two factions in the city (the Blue and the Green) are normally at odds with each other, but have joined forces to compel the Emperor to abdicate. Who then would take his place? And would he survive the coronation? The slow pace of this book allows the reader to soak up the historical detail and to feel what life would have been like at that time in that particular city.

I must admit that at times I lost the thread of the story. The plot is intricate and carefully thought out. The many characters with Roman names left me wondering at times who they were. But the background descriptions of Constantinople (now Istanbul) made this reader feel part of the whole scene.

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