"Farmers' Law"  
Crime Through Time III.jpg
Author Harry Turtledove
First Appearance Crime Through Time III
Collected Atlantis and Other Places
Genre(s) Historical, Mystery
Publication date 2000

"Farmers' Law" is a short story by Harry Turtledove originally published in the anthology Crime Through Time III, edited by Sharan Newman, in 2000 and reprinted in Atlantis and Other Places in 2010.

It is a straight historical and mystery story, set in the Byzantine Empire during the reign of Constantine V. In the village of Abrostola, a prosperous farmer named Theodore is murdered. As he'd alienated a few people in the village, there is no shortage of suspects. However, the village is hesitant to go the authorities in nearby Amorion. Constantine V's reign is ferociously iconoclastic, but Abrostola has escaped the government's notice. The village wants to keep its icons, but doesn't want a murderer to go free. So the village priest Father George is given the task of finding the killer.

Literary Note[]

The introduction to the story found in Crime Through Time III states that "Farmers' Law" is Turtledove's first mystery story. However, both "Les Mortes d'Arthur" and "The Maltese Elephant" were mystery stories published earlier. On the other hand, the former story is a mystery in a science fiction setting, and the latter is a pastiche-spoof of a 1920s novel. "Farmers' Law" is absent of both fantastic elements and parody.

An analog of the Iconoclast Controversy is at the center of Turtledove's "Images" in the Agent of Byzantium series.

See Also[]