Nine for the Devil: A John the Lord Chamberlain Mystery
Mary Reed & Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen, 2012 (2012)
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Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
ine for the Devil
by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer is the ninth in their series taking place in Constantinople in the 500s A.D. This particular episode happens in 548 A.D. just after Empress Theodora has died.
lmost everyone in the city except Emperor Justinian breathes a sigh of relief. Theodora had been a vindictive, domineering woman who showed no mercy to anyone who crossed her in any way. Her husband Justinian, however, saw no harm in her. He is convinced that someone has murdered her and commissions Lord Chamberlain John to discover who could have poisoned her.
nowing that the woman had been seriously ill for some time and almost certainly died of natural causes, John doesn't feel he can accomplish this task and fears for his life when he fails in his mission.
heodora had forced a man to live with a wife he never loved, as he watched a match made with his true love to another man. Reason enough to murder. But did he? Justinian's cousin has seen his career blocked. Another suspect? General Belisarius and his wife are enraged that Theodora insisted that their daughter live with her grandson so that they would marry.
he list goes on. The lawyer Anatolius and the captain of the palace guards have been acting strangely. The palace physician Gaius could have doctored Theodora's potions with poison.
ohn's quest takes him all over Constantinople from the palace to the alleys of the homeless. Poor John has no recourse to save himself from being beheaded if he has to admit failure. This series brings to life an era a millennium and more before I came on this earth. Living for the wealthy, for those times, was splendid and miserable for the poor folk. What has changed?
t's easy to imagine one's self back in that time as it is depicted in this series. I could have prowled the streets and alleys of Constantinople with John as he pursued a villain who probably did not exist. The surprise ending didn't surprise me but the manner of revelation did. The husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer have won, and been nominated for, many awards, and shall continue to do so, I'm sure.
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