A Review From Doris Ann Norris

One for Sorrow by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer is an outstanding historical mystery featuring John the Eunuch, Lord Chamberlain to Christian Emperor Justinian in Constantinople during the sixth century. John, however, does not hold with the Christian faith but is a disciple of Mithra, often considered the religion of soldiers which John was in his past life.

John looks into the murder of one of his friends from court. When a prostitute is murdered, he sees some connection between the two crimes. Also involved is Thomas, a knight from King Arthur's court who claims to be on a quest for the Holy Grail. There is also a mysterious soothsayer who may be more than he seems. John is a most complex and intriguing character for whom the reader really begins to care. How did he get to Constantinople and his elevated (but precarious) position and how long can he retain it as the intrigue of the court and the enmity of the Empress Theodora make job security an impossibility? And who is the young mysterious woman bull leaper that reminds John of a happier past?

The reader is taken to the Constantinople in the early days of Christianity as various theologies and dogmas are as rampant as the decrees declaring many of them heretical.

Highly recommended for its intriguing setting, complex characterizations and baffling mysteries of both the human and supernatural varieties, "One for Sorrow" is a triumph.

--Doris Ann Norris

Two for Joy

Reviewed by Doris Ann Norris for BookBrowser, 11/20/2000

How often have you read a mystery where a trio of stylites seem to suddenly self-combust during a storm? Since these Christian holy men reside on high pillars throughout 6th century Constantinople, the people of this cosmopolitan city are well aware of these presumably inexplicable events.

To complicate matters further, a prophet, Michael is at the outskirts of the city. Michael has gathered a large group of followers both inside and outside the city walls. One of his adherents is the young and discontented wife of a senator. Michael has claimed that if his demands to meet the Emperor and be made Patriarch are not satisfied, the mysterious fire will continue to plague the people of the capitol. The Emperor Justinian, a self-styled theologian, has buried himself away to try and reconcile the belief of Michael, which turns the Trinity into the Holy Quartet, and sends his Lord Chamberlain, John the Eunuch, as his emissary.

John is the hero of this outstanding series that began with ONE FOR SORROW by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. John, whose past which included his dismemberment, has quickly become one of my favorite heroes. He is a man of great compassion and tolerance and able to survive in a court that is not at all compatible with his Mithran beliefs. He must always be aware of the machinations of the Empress Theodora and other courtiers who would like nothing better than to see him tumble from favor.

As he attempts to discover the secret of the deadly fires and prevent further mischief from Michael, there are other problems that call for his attention. His friendship with the young Anatolius also brings him into danger, as does his association with Isis, an Egyptian courtesan and owner of Constantinople's best known establishment for men who seek the pleasures of the flesh away from home.

The authors take the readers, not only to the courts of the powerful, but to the streets filled with the powerless as they merely attempt to survive in the only world they know.

TWO FOR JOY is a powerful book full of finely drawn characters and the evocation of a time and place so different from our own. While engrossed in the book, one feels not only the pull of Asia Minor but also the sensation of having entered a real time machine.

TWO FOR JOY along with ONE FOR SORROW, the first in the series, are not-to-be-missed novels. They would also make wonderful holiday presents for those on your list who love history, theological intricacies, or just a whopping good mystery.

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