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.