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Five for Silver
By Mary Reed & Eric Mayer

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Five for Silver

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Five for Silver
A John the Eunuch Mystery
By Mary Reed & Eric Mayer
Read How You Want, (2009)
EasyRead Large Print, in 16 Point Font
(Originally Published in Standard Print by Poisoned Pen Press)
ISBN: 9781458728890
Genre: Historical Mystery

Also available: 20 point Super Large Print edition in 2 Volumes: Volume I and Volume II
Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - December 31, 2009

Five for Silver is a gripping murder mystery set in Constantinople in the year 542, the year that bubonic plague decimated the great city, killing somewhere between 40-70% of the cities population. As countless victims fall to the plague, is it likely that anyone would notice just one more dead body? A killer hopes not, but he does not count upon John, the Eunuch, the Lord Chamberlain, from getting involved in the case. John is a former soldier who was captured and made a slave, only to rise to be Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian. He also just happens to have a knack for getting involved in murders - from the lawful side. In this case, the victim is an old friend of Peter, John's servant. Peter thinks that his old friend was murdered, and not just another victim of the plague, because an angel told him so. Peter pleads his case to John, asking him to investigate his old friend's death. While John is not totally convinced by the angel story, the stab wounds that he finds in the body are enough to convince him that something is indeed amiss - and sets out to find out what really happened.

Five for Silver is the fifth book in the John the Eunuch Mystery series written by husband and wife team, Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. The story is filled with rich historical details that vividly describe not only the horrors of the plague, but also what life was like in Constantinople during the waning days of the Roman Empire when Constantinople was the capital of Byzantium. They also ably illustrate the burgeoning conflict that was arising between the Christian and Pagan inhabitants of the city as Christianity gains ascendancy over the Pagan faiths that had for so long ruled Constantinople. These historic details and the unique choice for their amateur sleuth makes this an excellent book to read for fans of historical fiction. However it is the finely crafted mystery that the authors have interwoven into the story that makes this an exceptional mystery novel, one that will delight not only fans of historical mystery, but contemporary mysteries as well.

While this book is the fifth in the series, you do not need to read the previous books for tackling it. This is the only book in the series that I've read so far (I plan on going back and reading the earlier books) and I had no trouble getting a grip on John's backstory or in getting to know him as a keen investigator. From the very beginning I was drawn into John's world, and the wide variety of characters that inhabit this book including crooked booksellers, a holy fool who dances with the dead, animal trainers, and profiteers benefitting from a city gripped in fear of the plague. The book is also full of historic figures such as the Empress Theodora. From beginning to end, Five for Silver is a well-plotted mystery that will leave you guessing until the very end about just what is really going on!

The current books in the John the Eunuch Mystery series are:
  1. One for Sorrow
  2. Two for Joy
  3. Three for a Letter
  4. Four for a Boy
  5. Five for Silver

Five for Silver is available from Read How You Want, an on-demand publisher that makes books available in a variety of formats including Braille, DAISY, and five different large print formats. This range of formats makes this, and other books, available not only to visually impaired individuals, but also anyone with a reading or physical disability that makes reading standard print books difficult.

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