From Publishers Weekly
This sequel to One for Sorrow continues the sixth-century adventures of John the Eunuch in the bustling, intrigue-filled city of Constantinople. The authors successfully create a setting in which Christianity, now the dominant religion under Emperor Justinian, is not only challenged by other beliefs but contested from within by competing factions. John, a former student and slave risen to the lofty but precarious position of Lord Chamberlain, is at storm center. First, Justinian charges him with investigating the fiery deaths of several "stylites"Dholy men who live alone atop pillars. Three of the stylites appear to have burst into consuming flames. John is sent along with his friend, Senator Flavius Aurelius, to meet with Michael, a prophet proclaiming a "quaternity" rather than a trinity of Christian godhood. Michael, who's attracting a growing following, claims to have foretold the stylites' deaths. It's punnish but apt to describe the plot as byzantine. Competition between rival chariot teams threatens to erupt into riots. Michael and his movement could prove a danger to the empire. The whims of Theodora, Justinian's powerful and ruthless wife, threaten more disruptions. The murder of a friend, imprisonment of another and the machinations of Justinian, Theodora and Michael combine to test John's ingenuity and resolve to the utmost. Fascinating historical details help compensate for an overly complex and sprawling story line, but the relative ignorance within the general mystery readership about this historical period could limit sales. (Dec. 7)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Fans of Roman-era mysteries (like Lindsey Davis' extremely popular Marcus Didius Falco series) are in for a real treat. This one, the sequel to One for Sorrow
(1999), is set in and around Constantinople, in the Byzantine Empire, during the reign of Emperor Justinian. When three men are burned to death during a rainstorm--talk about your suspicious circumstances--John, the Emperor's Lord Chamberlain, is sent to the Shrine of Saint Michael, where a disturbing group of pilgrims, led by a man who also calls himself Michael, has set up camp. This new-age prophet is predicting that terrible (but unspecified) things will happen if he is not granted an immediate audience with Justinian. Is Michael a crackpot, or does he possess genuine divine powers? Or is he, perhaps, merely a murderer? This is a very intelligent novel; its examination of the nature of belief and faith (and deception) is as insightful and well reasoned as some book-length nonfiction treatments of the same subjects. Add to that a rich and fascinating setting, a solid mystery, and a few surprises, and you have a novel that will capture the interest of anyone who picks it up. If the perfect historical mystery is one that uses the past to let us see the present from a new angle, then this is darned close to being the perfect historical mystery. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved