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Surgeon Getorius Asterius, his wife Arcadia, the eunuch archpriest of a pagan fertility cult, the female head of a heretical Arian church, and an ambitious senator in league with a Chinese merchant: these are the prime movers in this mystery set in Ravenna, Italy, in A.D. 440. When Getorius is summoned to examine the castrated body of a youth found by Thecla in her Arian church, who is the sobbing “Vestal Virgin” nearby? Is there any connection between this crime and the fact that a senator is smuggling counterfeit Western coins to the Eastern Empire, and contraband Chinese products back to Ravenna? A coded message leads to a secret tunnel and the sinister temple of Cybele, whose devotees are self-mutilated eunuchs. In a stunning climax, the conspirators try to escape Ravenna, planning to sell their products in Egypt, but failing to recognize the deadly nature of what they are carrying...
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With degrees in art, art education and the humanities, Albert Noyer’s career includes working in commercial and fine art, teaching in Detroit Public Schools and at private colleges. He lives in New Mexico.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Thecla was just turning back from opening the second door, to admit as much light as possible, when she heard what sounded like sobs echoing in the dim nave, coming from the chancel area around the altar. She hesitated a moment, then walked along the column arcade until she made out the figure of a woman swathed in a white robe, sitting on the stone floor near the pulpit. A veil partially concealed her head and face. The woman's bulky garment rose and fell with each sob. "Domina? Domina, are you ill?" Thecla whispered, puzzled that someone would be in her church at this hour. Louder sobbing was the only answer. The robes look vaguely familiar, Thecla thought, but I don't believe she's a congregation member. "Can I help you, Domina," she repeated more loudly. When Thecla moved closer, she noticed a puddle of blood on the floor that seeped onto the lower part of the woman's tunic. Then, in the half-light, she made out the nude body of a young man lying to one side of the woman. A golden sickle gleamed softly in his limp hand. The dark pool of blood seemed to come from between his legs. Thecla bent next to the youth and saw in horror that his scrotum had been severed. "Christotokos," she gasped, "Mother of Christ, what happened here? Did...did he?" Nausea choked off her question. Thecla leaned sideways in a retch that brought bitter bits of crayfish to her throat. She felt the jar she was carrying slip from hands that were drained of strength, helpless to hold onto the smooth clay. The container smashed on the floor, sending a splash of golden oil to mingle with the crimson puddle at her feet. After a moment she recovered enough to wipe a sleeve across her mouth. "Virgin Mother...the man...has...has mutilated himself," she murmured to herself. "He needs medical help. What was the name of that physician Fabius mentioned? It sounded Celtic or Gothic...said he lived on the Via Julius Caesar." Thecla decided the sobbing woman could wait until a physician came. With another glance at the youth's body, the presbytera staggered to her feet. Dazed, in shock, she supported herself on each nave column in turn, lurching back to the entrance. A diminishing trail of oily blood from the hem of her tunic had feathered out by the time she reached the front doors. Thecla went out into the shadow of the portico to gulp in cool evening air until she felt less faint. Gradually, her mind cleared. When she looked around for someone who might help, she saw a small figure walking along her side of the Via Armini. "Boy!" she called out in a hoarse voice. "Child, wait!" The boy stopped and looked her way. She fumbled for a bronze quadrans in her purse, then half-ran to him, hiking up her tunic to keep from tripping on the folds, thinking that any loss to her dignity was of less importance than finding help for the man in her church -- if he was still alive. Thecla was out of breath when she reached the boy. "Child," she panted, "th..there's a bronze in it..if you...bring that physician...who lives...on the Julius Caesar here quickly." The urchin stared at the old woman in her shabby black tunic, eyed the coin in her hand, then turned and ran west along the Via Porti. Mother of Christ, have I frightened the child off? In this twilight I must look like some dark-robed sorceress. "Quickly," she repeated faintly, although the boy was out of hearing. Then Thecla slid to her knees on the damp grass as the horrifying scene in the church filled her mind again. Christotokos, eleison. have mercy, Mother. Who is that young man? Why did he come to my church to...to do that to himself? And the woman. Who is she? Thecla held back an urge to vomit with a prayer of desperation. "Mother of Christ, now I truly need your help. Let that boy bring back the surgeon who treats Fabius's mother. Quickly!
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Book Description Brilliance Audio, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1469242338