Christen Stern is an ambitious young scholar and alchemist. He travels to Prague in 1599 during a cold winter hoping to make his fortune in the Emperor's court. His first night in the city he stumbles upon the body of a young woman who appears to be from high society.
Christen follows his fortunes despite the obvious dangers and wins the trust of the Emperor. The Emperor decides to task him with discovering who killed the young woman--who happens to be the Emperor's mistress. Christen soon finds himself involved in a power struggle that goes deeper than he could have imagined. There are attempts to take over the throne and Christen finds that his own life is in danger. Will Christen discover the pertinent details in time to save himself and the Emperor?
This was my first experience reading a novel by Benjamin Black. I had heard good things about him, and I was very excited to read this book. It takes place in a time period I am very interested in and combine it with a murder it seemed very promising. I liked the descriptions of the setting and characters.
I ended up feeling disappointed in this book. I found that the plot moved forward at an extremely slow pace. I found myself skimming some parts later in the book simply because it was a chore to read this book. I found the summary of the book to be more interesting than the book actually was. I think the author could have made this book more interesting but focused too much on situations that did not help enough with the plot. I understand wanting to make readers connect with the characters, but it was too much description with little action for me.
I also thought that the plot seemed a little rushed at times when we were actually reading something that moved it forward because so much time had been spent on the minor details. It not only made the important parts seem rushed but it made the plot seem unrealistic. Our main character was suddenly figuring things out with hardly any time spent on his investigations. I think if there had been a little bit of balance between the descriptions and the plot the book would have been much more enjoyable.
If you like historical mysteries you could give this book a try, but it would not be my first recommendation.
*I received a free copy of this book from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.
*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book that I would not have gotten to as soon or heard about otherwise.