Jim Recommends: The Sufi Mysteries Quartet – Laury Silvers

I stumbled on this series when I was reading Seeking Truths Through: Historians on Writing Historical Genre Fiction in Perspectives On History. Laury Silvers is a scholar in the medieval Islamic world. She had moved from academia to writing historical fiction because it was one of the only ways to get at the lives of women in the medieval Islamic world. I’ve started The Lover and am really enjoying it. As the article suggests the book as a Umberto Eco Name of the Rose vibe. It submerges you in the world of 10th century Bagdad and it is fun just for the world building but the mystery is interesting as well. A side effect of being submerged in the world of the book is the author assumes you know your way around the medieval Baghdad. I kind of like that. I’m a librarian and I love researching things I don’t understand but I can see it being a deterrent. Sadly, no libraries in NOBLE own this series yet but we can get it through Interlibrary Loan.

The Lover

Zaytuna just wants to be left alone to her ascetic practices and nurse her dark view of the world. But when an impoverished servant girl she barely knows comes and begs her to bring some justice to the death of a local boy, she is forced to face the suffering of the most vulnerable in Baghdad and the emotional and mystical legacy of her mother, a famed ecstatic whose love for God eclipsed everything. The Lover is a historically sensitive mystery that introduces us to the world of medieval Baghdad and the lives of the great Sufi mystics, washerwomen, Hadith scholars, tavern owners, slaves, corpsewashers, police, and children indentured to serve in the homes of the wealthy.

The Jealous

When a distinguished scholar dies at the Barmakid hospital in Baghdad, nearly everyone points the finger at his enslaved servant Mu’mina, as the one who called a demon to kill him. Tein, a former frontier fighter turned investigator with the Grave Crimes Section, has no time for religion, let alone jinn, and sets out to prove her innocent. But Ammar, Tein’s superior and old wartime friend, has already pushed her case before the Police Chief’s court where she’s sure to be executed or condemned to rot in the prisons built into the damp walls of Baghdad’s Round City. With the help of his twin sister, Zaytuna, his childhood friend, Mustafa, and Zaytuna’s friend, the untamable Saliha, Tein plunges into a dangerous investigation that takes them into the world of talisman-makers and seers, houses of prostitution and gambling, and the fractious secular and religious court systems, all in an effort to turn back the tragic circumstances set in motion by Ammar’s destructive fear of a girl horribly wronged.

The Unseen

When a young man is found dead, killed in the exact manner as a martyr slain on the fields of Karbala some two hundred years before, there is no mistaking it as anything other than an attack on the Shia community of Baghdad. The city is on edge as religious and political factions are exposed sending the caliph’s army into the streets. Ammar and Tein have to clear the case, one way or another, before violence erupts. But Zaytuna has had a visionary dream of the murder that holds the key to solving the case. Can she can read its signs? And will Tein and Ammar listen?

The Peace [Set to be released later in 2022]

A reclusive scholar whispered to hold a controversial Qur’an manuscript goes missing and some scholars are only too happy to see him gone while others are willing to fight to find the only remaining copy of Ibn Mas`ud’s infamous codex. The imam of the Sharqiyya Mosque asks Mustafa for help, pulling Tein, Ammar, and Zaytuna into a case that pits them against some of the most powerful men of the empire, including the viziers of the new boy caliph, al-Muqtadir, himself.