The Sufi mysteries transport the reader to the streets of medieval Baghdad where amateur sleuth Zaytuna, her twin brother Tein, a detective with the Grave Crimes Section of the Baghdad Police, and his superior on the force, Ammar, investigate suspicious deaths and uncover secrets no one wants revealed. The Sufi mysteries are written by Dr. Laury Silvers, a retired professor of Abbasid era Islam and Islamic mysticism.
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. It asks what it means to have family when you have nearly no one left, what it takes to love and be loved by those who have stuck by you, and how one can come to love God and everything He’s done to you.
When a distinguished scholar dies at the Barmakid hospital in Baghdad, nearly everyone points the finger at his slave 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.
To learn more, please visit Laury Silvers website
Listen to Laury Silvers discuss writing crime fiction on the Abbasid History Podcast
Read an excerpt from The Jealous:
As she reached the end of the courtyard, a woman’s low howl of pain echoed through the entrance hall. Without thinking, Saliha ran toward it, and then Judah, out of a men’s ward. Orderlies got to the woman first and were lifting a writhing man out of a donkey cart, then carrying him through the doors to the nearest bed. A woman, surely his wife, was now screaming in terror, “She’s killed him! She’s killed him!” The man was not dead. He was in great pain, but not dead. His face was twisted with terror staring at something that was not there, looking at the space just over his chest, grasping at his left arm as if to pull the grip of some unseen force off of it.
Saliha gasped, “A jinn! God protect us from evil things!”
Dr. Judah directed the orderlies to take the man into the nearest ward. He saw Saliha and indicated to her to take hold of the woman and get her out of the way. Saliha rushed forward to her and took her arm. “Auntie, quiet, the doctor has him now.”
The woman tried to pull her arm away. “Let me go to him! He’s dying! She’s killed him!”
Saliha held onto her more firmly and pulled her toward the courtyard. “The doctor has him now. We can see into the ward from here. Come.”
The woman’s eyes were wild, the delicate fabric of her niqab moving from the force of each word, “That whore of a slave! She’s cursed him! An ifrit has taken hold of him!”
Saliha felt real fear at the word ‘ifrit’. It was the worst sort of creature, a powerful jinn, who could kill or lead people to their worst selves so they did whatever ugly business the jinn had planned for them. She pulled the woman to sit and commanded her, “Tell me now what has happened. I must tell the doctor. This will affect your husband’s care.”
“His slave! Mu’mina, the slut! I saw her! She bought a talisman and forced him to wear it around his neck!”
“What happened? What did you see?”
“He was bruised but he didn’t know how it happened! His eye blackened, his rib broken, and he didn’t know how! He wouldn’t believe me that it was her and he wouldn’t take that cursed talisman off.” The woman choked on the words, “That talisman drew an ifrit into our household to kill him.”
“Can you sit here while I go speak to the doctor? Take a deep breath with me.”
The woman sucked in a breath with her, then another. She nodded and pushed Saliha to get up and go to the doctor.