In a villa on the coast of Montenegro, Abby Cormac witnesses the brutal murder of her lover, diplomat Michael Lascaris. The last thing she remembers is a gun pointed directly at her. She wakes to find herself at the centre of a diplomatic nightmare. Everyone wants an answer but no one wants to listen. Even her employers at the Foreign Office believe she's hiding something. She is completely alone.
As Abby tries to piece together the last few months of Michael's life in order to get at the truth, she soon realises that he wasn't quite what he seemed. What exactly was his relationship with one of the most ruthless men in the Balkans - a war criminal who has never been brought to justice? And what links Michael's gift to her of a gold necklace with its Christian monogram, a 4th century manuscript left in the shadow of Emperor Constantine's palace at Trier and an inscription on a tomb in Rome?
When Abby investigates further, it becomes clear that someone wants to suppress a secret, one that has been kept hidden for centuries. And they will stop at nothing to do so...
The past proves more memorable than the present in this so-so thriller from British author Harper (The Mosaic of Shadows). In the present, Abby Cormac, a British Foreign Office official employed by an EU mission in Kosovo, and her boyfriend, Michael Lascaris, take a break at a friend's villa in Montenegro, where early one morning Abby wakes up to discover Michael meeting with a strange man, who pulls a gun on her. Abby flees, but the gunman succeeds in shooting her. When Abby recovers from her bullet wound, she determines to find out why she was attacked, but her search for answers follows a mundane course. Meanwhile, in 337 A.D. Constantinople, the emperor Constantine charges Gaius Valerius to find out who bludgeoned a bishop to death in a city where "not all murders are crimes. And not all criminals are guilty." A necklace that figures in Valerius's investigation holds an important clue for Abby centuries later. Fans of Harper's straight historicals will hope that he returns to that genre.