The Abyssinian Proof
Norton, Feb 2008, $23.95
In 1303 Rumi (Oct 1887 Gregorian) in Istanbul, concern is high over the stealing of religious antiquities from the mosques, synagogues and churches of the Ottoman Empire; especially when the purloined artifacts are smuggled out of the country to London for sale to the highest bidder. With leaders of the three religions in feverous rage blaming one another and the Sultan, fear by the secular rulers is that a new Crusade is coming that could destroy the already ailing Empire if they do not calm the waters by catching the thieves. On top of all this is an assassination in broad daylight of the Ottoman governor of Macedonia.
The minister of justice assigns secular court magistrate Kamil Pasha to handle the assassination expeditiously and then the antiquities thefts. However, the latest item has caused an even greater furor than usual as the stolen reliquary contains the Proof of God message hidden to keep it safe from the Muslims by Isaak Metochites and his family in 1453 Constantinople. Tied up with the murder on Istanbul’s streets, Kamil turns to his friend Malik, the caretaker of a mosque, to regain the stolen reliquary.
In many ways the second Kamil Pasha late nineteenth century Ottoman Empire mystery (see THE SULTAN'S SEAL) is more a deep historical tale than a whodunit as the investigations enhance the insightful look at the era than visa versa. Thus THE ABYSSINIAN PROOF targets those who prefer an insider glimpse of life in Istanbul with religions ready to fight one another in the name of God while devastating the enfeebled empire using the mysteries to augment the period piece.