In THE DEADLIEST HATE, Miriam goes to Caesarea to trace an alchemical document that has surfaced there. The practice of alchemy was a capital offense throughout the Roman Empire. Amid accusations of cheating their clients, destabilizing the currency, or worst yet, of financing the overthrow of the Empire, her colleagues could be arrested, tortured, and executed. Miriam explains that at least as a Roman citizen, she could not be summarily executed.
Our comrades in the League of Alchemists could be charged like common thieves with conspiring to cheat their clients. As a Roman citizen, I at least could appeal to Claudius for the right to defend myself in a proper trial. After that, the worst I could face would be a presumably painless death by beheading. The others in the league, being non-citizens, would be summarily crucified. They’d be left to hang outside the city gates to suffer the summum supplicium, the most extreme punishment, after which there could be no burial, no lamentations, no peace, only their wandering souls, the buzz of blue-green flies, and a jackal’s marks on their scattered bones to serve as an appalling warning to others.
Like foxes and coyotes, jackals have been depicted as clever sorcerers in local myths and legends.
During Miriam’s time, this medium-sized omnivorous mammal was a frequent literary symbol of desolation, loneliness, and abandonment, perhaps because it often hunts alone and habitually lives in the ruins of former cities.
Miriam will need your help to find the document and discover how it came to surface in Caesarea. (To make matters worse, at the same time she becomes the target of Judean assassins.) But until March 15, the e-book of THE DEADLIEST HATE is on sale for only 99 cents! Just go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, or Google, and you can consider yourself her deputy detective. For Amazon, click here.