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The Joys of the Past
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Sixth century Constantinople probably isn't the first place most people would think of for a mystery setting but Mary and I have found there are advantages to writing about a time and place which no longer exist, particularly when it comes to getting our facts right -- or at least not getting them demonstrably wrong.

The tourist who wants to chide us for claiming that the vendors next to the Baths of Zeuxippus make the best grilled fish in the city has been dead for several hundred years. And the little stand in Forum Constantine where everyone in the know buys their fish is now a single brick buried under seventeen feet of pavement and rubble, and it's not talking.

We don't have to worry about how quickly an ox cart can accelerate (not very) or field irate letters informing us that a Glockenspiel 9mm (or whatever....) does not have the stopping power to knock the wheel off a chariot at 100 paces (Our hero carries a concealed dagger.) Personally speaking, one of the delights of writing historical mysteries is being able to maintain my total ignorance of automobiles and firearms.

Just as importantly we never need to fret that anyone will accuse our detective of being a pale copy of someone else's sleuth. Who else has written about the Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian? John is unique. A well known official, hobnobbing easily with the aristocrats of an opulent court. Few realize he is a secret pagan, and a man tortured and driven by a black event in his past, who will don his cloak to stalk the city's dark alleys, meting out justice when necessary. Much to the distress of his loyal, elderly servant Peter. And the chagrin of his nemesis, the evil Empress Theodora, she with the red painted sickle for a smile.

Ah...okay...maybe I read too many Batman comics during my childhood. Ssshhhh. No one tell Mary.

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