Barry Baldwin's Review of Six For Gold

Mary Reed and Eric Mayer are the most reliable hit-producing machine since The Everly Brothers. Their latest John caper, Six For Gold, is as aureate as its title. In this outing, our hero is sent to the always mysteriously dangerous land of Egypt, ostensibly to probe at imperial orders reported cases of suicidal goats - an inspired touch, this. While John, with wife and servant, encounter sundry bizarre local personalities and customs, back in Constantinople his friends and enemies are kept busy with intrigues and murders, creating an effective double narrative. Though their scenes are few, we feel the sinister presence of Justinian and Theodora looming over every move. The dungeon encounter between John and the malevolent empress is one of the most genuinely blood-curdling chapters I have read in years. As always, there are many rib-ticking jokes (I may have to sue the authors for permanent damage to said body parts), and the mastery of Byzantine 'Realia' is as impressive as ever. I iterate my standard complaint about this series: why cannot Reed-Mayer bring out one a month? Still, while Sue Grafton must presumably pension off Kinsey after 26, unless she switches to the Greek alphabet, the One-For, Two-For sequence is happily infinite. - Barry Baldwin, Emeritus Professor of Classics, University of Calgary, Fellow of The Royal Society of Canada, and wannabe mystery scrivener.

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