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Six for Gold: a John the Eunuch Mystery    by Mary Reed & Eric Mayer order for
Six for Gold
by Mary Reed
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

How can sheep in a remote Egyptian village be slitting their own throats? Emperor Justinian sends his Lord Chamberlain John to unravel the mystery. Of course, there'll be other tangled threads to straighten out once John arrives in Mehenopolis.

In the time of the Caesars, Mehenopolis was a popular tourist destination as the location of the shrine to the snake deity (it was buried deep in a cave). John becomes embroiled with magic, charlatans, heretics, an itinerant bee-keeper who kept his bees in clay hives, and a disgraced charioteer! All the while, doing his best not to be assassinated. Meanwhile, back in Rome, John's close friend Anatolius, recently turned lawyer, tries to keep John's house from being appropriated by an unscrupulous man who plays both sides of the street. The Emperor Justinian must be placated at every turn and Justinian's wife is hell on wheels.

What a background for a story - Six for Gold. Authors Reed and Mayer have concocted a plot with more turns than a rambling brook. Suspense reigns and excitement runs alongside. It's easy to fall into the time period covered in this sixth in the John the Eunuch series as the authors have a copious working knowledge of the Roman Empire which they generously share with their readers. And the characters are a treat to admit into your home for the time it takes to read this engrossing historical mystery.

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