Lefèvre, a French archaeologist, has arrived in Istanbul determined to uncover a lost Byzantine treasure. Yashim is commissioned to find out more about him. But when Lefèvre's mutilated body is discovered outside the French embassy, it turns out that there is only one suspect: Yashim himself. Once again, Yashim finds himself in a race against time to find the startling truth behind a shadowy secret society dedicated to the revival of the Byzantine Empire, caught in a deadly game deep beneath the city streets, a place where the stakes are high - and betrayal is death.
Early 19th-century Istanbul's teeming mix of nationalities, religions and cultures comes alive in this vibrant sequel to the Edgar-winning The Janissary Tree (2006). When French archeologist Maximilien Lef vre begins asking very pointed, well-informed questions about long-lost Greek artifacts and then is found dead outside the French embassy, series hero Yashim, a Turkish eunuch, finds himself suspected of the murder. His efforts to clear his name take him from markets and wharves to palaces and underground tunnels as he uncovers a secret society, unearths sacred relics and hunts the murderer. Goodwin's secondary characters, particularly Yashim's close friend Stanislaw Palewski, the world-weary Polish ambassador, are distinct and memorable, and the mystery presents an entertaining challenge to the reader as well as to charming, determined Yashim. With his second effort as intricate and delightful as the first, Goodwin takes his rightful place among such distinguished British historical mystery writers as Lindsay Davis and the late Edith Pargeter.