Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Furies by D.L. Johnstone

I love historical fiction, and I also especially love thrillers. So when given the opportunity to review Furies: An Ancient Alexandrian Thriller by D.L. Johnstone, which has both the word ancient and thriller in the title (YAY!), I could not wait to read it. In fact I used my free month trial of prime on Kindle to borrow this. (It was just sitting there collecting dust, so why not use it?) Boy, am I glad I did.

This book has everything. From murder to love to deceit, even desperation, Furies makes your head reel from the very beginning. It starts out by introducing us to a man named Decimus Tarquitius Aculeo. (What a name, huh?) He has just run into a bit of a rut concerning an investment he has made. Okay, maybe "a bit of a rut" is an understatement, because he just lost everything that he has known for years. His wife, his son, even his precious multi-level villa in the city of Alexandria. All of his possessions have been auctioned off. He has nothing to show for his former life...except maybe his very loyal slave Xanthias. That's only the prologue, folks.

The real story starts about three months later. We find that Aculeo has at least found himself somewhere to stay, even if it is a rotting hellhole of a place. However, he has taken to spending all his money on drink as the hope of returning to his former success slips through his fingers. In the streets of Alexandria, after selling some of the final possessions he had hidden away and gaining some coin, Aculeo spots a dead man. Not in the sense you might think. This man had been thought dead, but, as Aculeo can see, is very much alive and kicking. This man, known by the name of Iovinus, was thought to have died in the same accident that claimed Aculeo's money and livelihood. Spotting Iovinus starts a long chain of unanswered questions for Aculeo. It also starts a chain reaction of murders in which we are introduced to a woman named Sekhet who seems to be the ancient Alexandrian equivalent of a medical examiner. She is probably as ancient as the city itself, but she can somehow to speak for the dead. She informs Aculeo that foul play is involved when the first death is discovered.

As each body is found, we find, along with Aculeo and Sekhet, that the murders are connected somehow. Possibly by a thin yellow cord tied around the victim's wrists...
This book was very thought out and well-researched. It had all the makings of a good historical fiction novel because it immersed the reader in the land of Alexandria. The descriptions were, to me at least, enveloping and made the world in which Aculeo lived jump out in my imagination. However, I would have liked the author to put some pronunciations in the beginning of the book along with the descriptions of everything because at times I felt that I was not saying the names at all right.

This book is a phenomenal read, a little slow maybe at first, but full of excitement. It has all the makings of a really well-written novel. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

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