A weekly alert for followers of crime, mystery, and thriller fiction.
Nine for the Devil, by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer (Poisoned Pen Press):
From the earliest installments of their numbered historical mystery series (One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, etc.) starring John, the perspicacious eunuch Lord Chamberlain to Roman Emperor Justinian I, married authors Reed and Mayer have demonstrated a keen understanding of the court politics and other intrigues rampant in sixth-century Constantinople. But the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire seems like a particularly dodgy snake pit in this latest book, which finds John tasked by Justinian with solving the alleged murder of his oft-conniving spouse, Empress Theodora. John isn’t convinced that the well-protected Theodora was in fact poisoned; however, he’s afraid of what might befall his own wife and daughter (and his daughter’s unborn child) should his investigation fail to satisfy the unpredictable Justinian. A story so packed with treachery, superstition, and exotic ambiance is hard to resist.