Potosí? These days it's not noted for much except being possibly the highest city in the world — 13,420 feet above sea level in the mountains of Bolivia. Once, though, slaves died by the thousands in its silver mines, and the metal they extracted kept the Spanish empire in business, paying that vast empire's entire military budget for years.
By the middle of the seventeenth century, Potosí was one of the world's biggest and most opulent places, in the words of the excellent Larry Gonick, a "weird and lawless city." Oh, and there was the Inquisition, operating with vigor from a new South American seat established in Colombia in 1610.
A weird and lawless city sounds like a promising place to set a mystery, and Annamaria Alfieri has done so with City of Silver.
You can join me in finding out how promising. I'll send a copy of City of Silver to the person who provides the best example of a city sunk from great prominence to a humbler state. (Real cities only. Atlantis doesn't count.)
© Peter Rozovsky 2010