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One for sorrow by Mary Reed
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One for sorrow (original 1999; edition 1999)

by Mary Reed, Eric Mayer

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1113108,775 (3.2)16
Member:richardderus
Title:One for sorrow
Authors:Mary Reed
Other authors:Eric Mayer
Info:Scottsdale, AZ : Poisoned Pen Press, 1999.
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:None

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One for Sorrow by Mary Reed (1999)

Recently added byTWLNewtown, private library, LadyWillow, JordanS, nawatramani, nookbooks, Doey, betsytacy

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Rating: 3.25* of five

The Book Description: Byzantium, capitol of the 6th century Roman Empire, simmers a rich stew of creeds, cultures, and citizens with a sprinkling of cutthroats and crimes. John, Emperor Justinian’s Lord Chamberlain, supervises a Christian court while himself observing the rites of Mithra. Thomas, a knight from Britain; Ahasuerus, a soothsayer; and two ladies from Crete stir up events and old memories for John, who must discover how the visitors link to the death of a treasury official.

My Review: First Mystery Novel Syndrome: Introduce characters, drop them for north of two chapters, come back and explain why they're game-changers, drop them for north of two chapters, and then shuffle them off-stage unceremoniously.

Then kill people the main character doesn't much care about, and make them part of the final solution.

Describe dead bodies in such a way that the savvy mysterian will be wondering why the sleuth doesn't spot something immediately; explain this away with Backstory Stress Disorder.

Set your story in a transitional time in history, which allows you to do interesting things with characters' beliefs and ideas. Skate along the surface of this possibility. Offer simultaneously a little too much and nowhere near enough of the tensions this would naturally create between the characters, instead of within them.

But in the end, after getting past the utterly urpsome description of a man being gelded, this first mystery in an ongoing series is just on the knife-edge of good enough to keep me going. ( )
1 vote richardderus | Dec 17, 2012 |
I debated whether to include this book in my library as my intention is only to include books I like a fair bit (there are and will be exceptions).

As a novel it didn't quite work for me. Most of the ingredients are there, but in my opinion more polishing was needed both in plotting and character development, and in the writing itself.

However there is enough of interest in the book--the setting, which is well wrought overall, and what is learned about that world, as well as some evocative writing. If you have an interest in the era it might be worth your reading it. If you are looking for a really good mystery or a seamless escape from daily life, there is too much that doesn't quite come together in this book. Still, it is not far off the mark. ( )
1 vote thesmellofbooks | Mar 7, 2009 |
First in the John the Eunuch historical series. John is Lord Chamberlain to the Emperor Justinian in 6th Century Constantinople. This mystery centers around the murder of his friend Leukos, another of Justinian’s court officials. It appears to be a simple case of a man cut down and attacked in a back alley, but John doesn’t believe it and conducts his own investigations. When a young prostitute is murdered a few days later in her Madam’s house near where the first murder occurred, John feels they are connected and the mystery deepens. I have to admit that I was somewhat disappointed with this book, as it sounded very interesting and it took me a long time to track it down. I’m not really sure exactly why I wasn’t overly fond of the book. There’s nothing overtly ‘bad’ about it, and I did like the way the authors didn’t cover up the dark side of history—the cruelty, class struggles, slavery, the realities of living in a stinking city. But I couldn’t really connect with the main character for some reason and for me, that is paramount to enjoyment of a series. I don’t necessarily have to LIKE the main character but I do have to feel some connection.

Part of my problem with the book was the writing style, I think. I felt that there were way too many adjectives and adverbs being used to describe every little detail of the surroundings, of the people and their clothing, the food they ate, their actions, etc and it was quite distracting rather than enhancing the story. You know, it sort of felt like when you wrote a report in school and after doing the word count, had to go back and insert another hundred words somewhere to make up the difference. (If that makes any sense! LOL) A lot of superfluous words that didn’t really enhance the story. Moreover, I didn’t really care about the mystery. I did finish it (and yes, I guessed the bad guy fairly early on, too LOL) but I think I will set the series aside, at least for now. It took me much longer than it should have to read this book, as I would read a couple of chapters (which were rather short) and lose interest, so it was completed in very piecemeal fashion. Not a good sign.

I was interested in the parts about John’s religion, Mithraism. Being a Pagan myself, I am always interested in other Pagan religious practices and seeing how they fit into society in general in differing time periods. But for me, that interest isn’t enough to carry me into the next book in the series. Another thing that factored into my decision is that these books are very difficult to come by for me, and again, this one didn’t hold my interest enough to make me continue to pursue them. ( )
1 vote Spuddie | Oct 3, 2008 |
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An enticing picture of sixth-century Byzantium. Court intrigue and the conflict of religious beliefs in the Christian capital of Constantinopole.

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