Poisoned Pen Press, Feb 2003, 24.95, 3112
Constantinople in the winter of 525 AD is so cold that the chariot races are postponed. The Blue faction is getting into trouble and causing riots while the green faction is so intimidated they don't wear uniforms in public. John the slave eunuch is normally assigned to the palace, but is on loan to Senator Opimius and his daughter Lady Anna who he tutors occasionally.
One day while escorting Lady Anna, they pass the Great Church where Hypatius, who donated a beautiful marble statue of Christ's Crucifixion, is murdered. Shortly after that John ends up fighting with some other Eunuchs and gets tossed in the dungeon. He is freed by the emperor's heir Justinius to discover the murderer, to see if the crime is tied to a plot to block him from becoming Emperor, and to spy on the Senator to see where his loyalties lie. He is teamed up with Felix, a palace guard loyal to the emperor who thinks working with a slave beneath him. John is miserable with his station in life but he is only a slave who must obey orders or die.
The hero of this tale doesn't realize that his first job for the heir apparent is the first step on his way to becoming Lord Chamberlin. FOUR FOR A BOY is a prequel to the three previous books in the series and for the first time readers feel they understand how John hates being a slave and a eunuch. Mary Reed and Eric Mayer have written a colorful and exotic historical mystery filled with all the plots and intrigues that took place in Constantinople.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner