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City of the Dead
Nick Zuliani Mysteries #1

by Ian Morson

      Opportunistic Venetian merchant Niccolo Zuliani has pushed his luck once too far, and is persona non grata in La Serenissima. Hired as a bodyguard by Friar Alberoni, he embarks on a mission to visit the court of Kubilai Khan in the fabled Xanadu. No sooner have they arrived, when Niccolo finds himself hired by a palace official to solve a murder. Trouble is, the murdered man is the person that Alberoni has come to find, a man who was charged to deliver a letter from the Pope to none other than Prester John, or his descendent. Soon Niccolo finds himself in even more danger than he was back in Venice.

Well done, Ian Morson! Histmyst readers will remember his Falconer series, and short stories with the Mediaeval Murderers. Now he returns to novels with this new series, set in a place where no historical mystery writer has gone before. It is always a pleasant surprise when somebody breaks out of the mold, and armchair travelers can settle back and enjoy reading about the perils of journeying to, and staying in the fabled city of Xanadu. Morson conjures up an exotic, foreign and dangerous place with an admirable economy of words, and having the lively Niccolo narrate the story, in his chatty way, allows us a mediator through which to view an alien civilization. The story itself will have readers chasing after red herrings and wondering what will happen next. What I hope happens next is another book, and then another! Highly recommended, especially to anybody who is hankering after something a bit different to the norm.

The Book

Severn House
February 2008
0727865978 / 9780727865977
Historical Mystery / 1262 Xanadu, China
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NOTE: Some violence

The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2008
© 2008