cover image Secrets of the Dead

Secrets of the Dead

Tom Harper. Arrow (IPG, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (480p) ISBN 978-0-09954-785-3

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. (Dec.)