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Timaeus is an investigator or a tracker of people and the truth. He has a history of unearthing the truth about crimes, which earns him rich rewards – so much that he secretly has his own villa in this backward, inexpensive province. The Roman wealthy obliged to oversee Judea think that a senator’s nephew has been exiled here to live a secluded life. Timaeus’s greatest secret however, is his admiration for a local girl, a mere shepherdess of great courage and resource, who has already saved his life after a climbing fall.Enter shepherdess Lila, a doughty heroine at a time when girls were not supposed to be so, a determined protector of her flock and her virtue. I loved her at once. By contrast, the town also harbours harlots who earn a few coppers from the many soldiers frequenting the small inns. They’re just making a living.
The Governor Marconius hires Timaeus following his brother’s untimely death – but his request is more than a little unusual. This sparks an investigation among assorted citizenry and soldiers, with the tracker donning a series of disguises and paying informers for gossip. Working for the Romans, who routinely crucify thieves by the roadside while shaking down honest merchants, is unpopular – creating a further source of danger for the foxy tracker.
The windswept, rocky Syrian desert is counterbalanced by the friendly fisherfolks on the lake. Filthy beggars contrast with wealthy camel-driving silk merchants. Sour milk flatbread is baked by some while others sip spring-chilled pomegranate juice. Larry Winebrenner, who has previously set mysteries in modern Florida, has excelled himself with the quality and action to be found in the scrolls of TIMAEUS THE TRACKER. If there is a sequel, I want to read it!
One of the potential murderers hires the “tracker” to discover how he murdered the deceased and where he disposed of the body. The highly skilled “tracker” has a very limited time frame to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. He accepts the assignment with the full awareness that if he is successful he could become very rich or very dead.The author’s attention to the details of everyday life during that time period greatly enhances the storyline. Right when you start to figure out who did what and what became of the body the plot takes another twist that urges you to read more. The “tracker” races against the changing phases of the moon to solve the mystery while thwarting several attempts on his life—in addition to solving the kidnapping of the daughter of a close friend.
This is an entertaining read for anyone looking for a delightfully different murder mystery.
The theme of deception resonates throughout the novel as Timaeus is not only tracing the events surrounding the murder of Marconius’ brother, but furtively covering his own tracks as Bartimaeus. Elizabeth’s flair for gathering information in the city’s streets and alleyways is matched by Lila’s survival skills as a shepherdess. Both of these are vital to the Tracker’s success, but of paramount concern is that neither woman falls victim to his many enemies. It turns into a rollercoaster ride through authentic Holy Land scenarios, and the characters are both sympathetic and dynamic as we follow them along Winebrenner’s entertaining storylines.For action/adventure fans as well as historical fiction buffs, Timaeus the Tracker by Larry Winebrenner is one you won’t want to miss.