Rated of 5
by Norma (Secaucus NJ)
Seven for a Secret
This novel is seventh in a series of detective novels by the husband and wife writing team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer. It is set in 6th century Constantinople (present day Istanbul). The main character is John the Lord Chamberlain, a high official in the government of Emperor Justinian (482-565, ruled 527-565). The city has just recovered from a plague and much of the population has died. John is living in a home on the palace grounds. The home used to belong to a tax collector who lost favor with the current administration. John has been “talking” to a girl that is on a wall mosaic in his study. She has become a sort of muse for John and he has named her Zoe.
He actually meets her in a square but she runs away before they can speak. She is then found murdered. John tries to solve the murder enlisting the help of his friends Anatolius a lawyer and Felix, the head of the palace guards. The authors do an excellent job of setting the scene and giving the reader a taste of life in Constantinople. The city is small. You can walk from one end to another in a short period of time. There is much palace intrigue, and conflict between those who support Emperor Justinian and those who don’t. Rumors of a coup are circulating. Justinian’s wife Theodora is evil and is believed to be the power behind the emperor.
You can draw many parallels between this time and many others through out history. Even though Constantinople is officially Christian, many people have not converted; they still worship their pagan gods in secret. John investigates the murder by interviewing craftsman, shop keepers and people in government. The story has plenty of twists and an unpredictable ending.
There is also a helpful glossary of terms and dates at the back. I would recommend this book, especially to readers who enjoy period pieces.