Constantinople, May 1453. In the dying days of the Byzantine Empire, Isaak Metochites and his family are entrusted with a silver reliquary carved with the figure of a weeping angel and the inscription: Behold the Proof of Chora, Container of the Uncontainable. Four hundred years later, magistrate Kamil Pasha is plagued by thefts of antiquities from mosques and churches and a series of murders in which the bodies bear the same distinctive mark. Sources lead Kamil to a hidden sect descended from Abyssinian slaves living in an abandoned cistern in Istanbul's gritty underworld. The reemergence of the forgotten reliquary sets off a brutal race between those sworn to protect it and those who will stop at nothing to gain its explosive secret.
A deftly plotted and clever tale of intrigue, duplicity, and violence."—Booklist, starred review
January 1888. Vera Arti carries The Communist Manifesto in Armenian through Istanbul's streets, unaware of the men following her. The police discover a shipload of guns, and the Imperial Ottoman Bank is blown up. Suspicion falls on a socialist commune that Arti's friends organized in the eastern mountains. Investigating, Special Prosecutor Kamil Pasha encounters a ruthless adversary in the secret police who has convinced the Sultan that the commune is leading an Armenian secessionist movement and should be destroyed, along with the surrounding villages. Kamil must stop the massacre, but he finds himself on the wrong side of the law, framed for murder and accused of treason, his family and the woman he loves threatened.
The Winter Thief explores the dark obsessions of the most powerful and dangerous men of the dying Ottoman Empire, as well as the era's mad idealism.