THE DROOD REVIEW September/October 1999

One for Sorrow, by Mary Reed & Eric Mayer

Imagine being visited by an Arthurian knight in search of the most holy of relics, the Grail. For John, Lord Chamberlain to Justinian, rule of the Byzantine Empire from 527 to 565, the knight is real, as is the search for what the knight proposes is not the cup so many believe the Grail to be, but a platter or some precious gem. Also real is the murder of John's friend Leukos, Keeper of the Plate, which John investigates at the request of Justinian. Historical novels must provide enough details to clearly evoke another place and time. This one does. Historical mysteries must also cleverly incorporate a murder into the setting. This one does. Thus, into Constantinople the reader plunges, into the court, into the often seedy streets, and into surroundings where few people can be trusted. Slipping the search for the Grail into an historical mystery is intriguing. Making John a eunuch, complicating the fact with the presence of his ex-lover and their daughter (news to John), making him a worshiper of Mithra at a time when Christianity was supplanting Mithraism, and illustrating his confusion through conversations with a face he sees in a mosaic tile is as intriguing as the search for the Holy Grail any day of the week--if not more so.

--Jean Porath
The Drood Review

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