Review of “Checkmate”

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“Checkmate” eBook was published in 2014 and was written by Mark Dewar (pseudonym used by Mark Heywood and Peter Dewar). Five novels have been published under the name of Mark Dewar.

I was notified that the book was available by the publisher. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The novel is set in 948 Cordoba, Spain. Then the capital of Moorish Spain.

The primary characters are Vizier Hasdai be Shaprut and General Ghalib. A noted scholar, astronomer and chess player, Aiden, is found murdered. He had just played six others in a public and tense chess match. Now his opponents, as well as the audience are under suspicion.

The Caliph’s son, who was a student of Aiden, charges Hasdai and Ghalib with finding the killer. The situation is complicated by the presence of an emissary from Bagdad. A war with Bagdad seems likely in the future. Hasdai and Ghalib are told that the Bagdadians will be arrested and executed for the murder unless hard evidence is found pointing to another.

Hasdai and Ghalib must navigate through political obstacles, as well as through the tight lipped audience at the chess match. Few want the exact extent of the betting and exchange of funds resulting from the chess matches to come to light.

I enjoyed the 6.5+ hours I spent reading this 290 page novel. The setting in 10th century Spain set this Mystery apart. The diverse population of Cordoba – Muslims, Christians and Jews – along with the political and religions tension made this an interesting read. With the human eye and experience the only ‘forensics’ available, it was a very different kind of investigation. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

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