on November 2nd, 2016
“This is the flower of the night which is demanded of him: a star in the sky...”
The day is 188.8.131.52.18 4 Etz'nab' 16 Sotz', and somewhere in the hills above the great Maya city of Palenque, a man is dying.
Taah Tiwoh, Priest of K'awiil, had been corrupt, abrasive and licentious, and few regretted his slow and agonising demise. Nevertheless, having failed to save his life, Royal Physician Lady Tz'unun finds herself struggling to work out what could possibly have caused his death.
However, danger lurks among the fog-shrouded mansions of the city's elites, and the more Tz'unun investigates, the more she realises that almost everyone Taah Tiwoh knew had a reason to wish him ill. As she works to eliminate suspects from her list before the dreaded City Magistrates can take over the case, the secrets and lies of the high aristocracy are thrown open to the light of day. In such ill-fated times, no one is above suspicion, and the good Doctor is not without secrets of her own...
A Star in the Sky is a magical murder mystery set among the glories of classical Maya civilisation.
I think there are certain authors you always feel safe with, ones that you trust. Deng is one of those authors. While none of Deng’s stories are settled in my favorite genre, I can nevertheless be guaranteed an interesting read, and when offered up this book, I eagerly accepted.
While I missed the banter and wild exploits of Keszthelyi and Estrade in Deng’s other books, I was instead handed an exciting setting and a murder that needed solving.
Now, I will openly admit that I’m not a murder mystery reader. Never have been. But that’s not why I pick up Deng’s books. It’s being transported to another place, realistic but fun, with a lot going on, that I enjoy. So for those avid murder mystery readers, I cannot say if you would enjoy this or not. If I loved it, I’d like to think you would as well.
The setting is the city of Palenque, a real Mayan city, and I felt the author did more than enough research to transport me there. Matter of fact, it felt authentic even down to the names, which I found myself tripping over often. For those picking up this book, skip to the back where you can find some handy notes on how to read the names. Even so, I’m a fast reader, and as such I don’t absorb every letter of a name, so I found this quite challenging as the names started running together for me. I advise any that tend to read names the same to take the time in the beginning to sort them all out.
I didn’t latch on to any one character in this book. I like them all, but I think the setting and culture stole the show here, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It definitely moves. You’re discovering along with the characters, and it makes it interesting. Because I’ve never written a review for a murder mystery, I’m hesitant to go into details about how I felt in regards to the who-done-it or how our characters explored the clues. All I’ll say is, for me, it was satisfying. And as always, Deng’s voice is confident and the writing smooth and hypnotizing.
If you read this and at all enjoy it, I cannot recommend this author’s works enough.