cover image City of the Dead: A Niccol Zuliani Mystery

City of the Dead: A Niccol Zuliani Mystery

Ian Morson, Author . Severn $27.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-7278-6597

Morson, author of the Falconer series set in 13th-century England (Falconer’s Crusade , etc.), launches the first of a new series in this solid if unspectacular historical set in the court of Kubilai Khan, the legendary Mongol ruler. In 1262, Niccolò Zuliani, a Venetian businessman who’s been looking for a fresh start, agrees to serve as the bodyguard for Friar Alberoni, who’s journeying to the Mongol empire on the church’s behalf to track down the fabled Christian ruler, Prester John. Soon after their arrival in the city of Xanadu, Zuliani stumbles across the corpse of Francesco Pisano, the friar whom Alberoni had been seeking as part of his mission. Zuliani winds up having to identify Pisano’s killer, who must be among the select few with access to the Great Khan’s inner palace. While Morson is less adept than such other historical mystery authors as Simon Levack and Tom Harper at evoking his chosen place and period, the brisk plot will carry most readers along. (Apr.)