Book Title: The Deadliest Sport: A Miriam bat Isaac Mystery in Ancient Alexandria
Author: June Trop
Category: Adult fiction, 242 pages
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Release date: October 7, 2017
Tour dates: May 14 to 25, 2018
Content Rating: PG (mild religious oriented expletives, such as "Lord," some violent descriptions, such as the corpse, the gladiatorial arena)
Miriam bat Isaac, a budding alchemist in first-century CE Alexandria, welcomes her twin brother Binyamin home to fight his last gladiatorial bout in Alexandria. But when he demands his share of the family money so he can build a school for gladiators in Alexandria, Miriam explains that he forsook his share when he took the gladiatorial oath.
When she refuses to loan him the money for what she feels is a shady and dangerous enterprise, Binyamin becomes furious. Soon after, the will of Amram, Miriam's elderly charge, turns up missing; Amram becomes seriously ill; and the clerk of the public records house is murdered. Could Binyamin really be behind this monstrous scheme? If not he, who could be responsible? And is Miriam slated to be the next victim?
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Miriam bat Issac lives in Alexandria in the first century CE. She is awaiting the return of her twin brother, Binyamin as he prepares for his last gladiatorial fight. Miriam currently serves as the head of the household after her father passed, taking care of the family business and overseeing the household. When Binyamin returns, he is rowdy, unkempt, harsh and demanding. He wants his share of his father's inheritance in order to open his own ludas or gladiator school in Alexandria. When Miriam tells him that the inheritance was relinquished when he became a gladiator, Binyamin is furious. Meanwhile, Miriam's charge, Amram is dying and the family's former scribe is found murdered in an unseemly part of of town. Miriam knows that the events are connected and somehow her brother is involved, it is up to her to place the pieces together.
A fun adventure and mystery in early Alexandria. I absolutely loved Miriam, she is very forward thinking, straightforward and brave. Miriam was given a difficult path in life and constantly decided to meet issues head on. I was very interested in the gladiatorial way of life and how men found their way into the sport as well as the fighting techniques. For all of Binyamin's brusqueness, he was well versed in understanding of the sport and training techniques. The mystery picked up about halfway through the story and captured my interest, what seemed like a simple plot thickened as new players arose. I enjoyed that I was able to see the mystery from two points of view and was pleased at how Miriam handled the indiscretion. Overall, a quick read for lovers of historical mystery with a strong female character.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
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Meet the Author:
June Trop and her twin sister Gail wrote their first story, "The Steam Shavel [sic]," when they were six years old growing up in rural New Jersey. They sold it to their brother Everett for two cents.
"I don't remember how I spent my share," June says. "You could buy a fistful of candy for a penny in those days, but ever since then, I wanted to be a writer."
As an award-winning middle school science teacher, June used storytelling to capture her students' imagination and interest in scientific concepts. Years later as a professor of teacher education, she focused her research on the practical knowledge teachers construct and communicate through storytelling. Her first book, From Lesson Plans to Power Struggles (Corwin Press, 2009), is based on the stories new teachers told about their first classroom experiences.
Now associate professor emerita at the State University of New York at New Paltz, she devotes her time to writing The Miriam bat Isaac Mystery Series. Her heroine is based on the personage of Maria Hebrea, the legendary founder of Western alchemy, who developed the concepts and apparatus alchemists and chemists would use for 1500 years.
June lives with her husband Paul Zuckerman in New Paltz, where she is breathlessly recording her plucky heroine's next life-or-death exploit.
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Ends June 2, 2018