Seven for a Secret: Book summary and reviews of Seven for a Secret by Mary and Eric Mayer Reed

Seven for a Secret

A John the Eunuch Mystery

By Mary and Eric Mayer Reed

Seven for a Secret
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2008,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Who killed the mosaic girl? As Lord Chamberlain, John spends his days counseling Emperor Justinian while passing the small hours of night in conversation with the solemn-eyed little girl depicted in a mosaic on his study wall. He never expected to meet her in a public square or afterwards find her red-dyed corpse in a subterranean cistern. Had the mysterious woman truly been the model for the mosaic years before as she claimed? Who was she? Why had she sought John out? Who wanted her dead -- and why?

Painting an enticing picture of sixth-century Byzantium, Reed and Mayer ably evoke court intrigue and the conflict of religious beliefs in the Christian capital of Constantinople through the eyes of sleuth John the Eunuch, lord chamberlain to Emperor Justinian.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[An] engrossing seventh mystery set in sixth-century Constantinople .... Once again convincing historical detail and strong characterization help drive a riveting plot." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. The story is fast paced, the tensions between characters well portrayed; the ending leaves the reader clamoring for more." - Library Journal.

"Meanders from brothels to copper markets to public baths and poetry readings, each rife with all the gossip, rumor, deceit and lewdness you'd expect from one of the Lord Chamberlain's cases." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Eileen
Enjoyable historical mystery
This book brings us a Byzantine era mystery. The Lord Chamberlain is approached by a woman claiming to be the child pictured in a mosaic in his home. An attempt to find out more from the mysterious woman lands him in the middle of a murder. As he looks into the murder he is drawn into the segment of Constantinople society where those aristocrats exiled from court live with prostitutes, actors, artists, beggars live and ply their trades.

I enjoyed the novel, although the movement of the story would slow down several times in the middle of the book. I also would have trouble with the jumps in perspective from John the Chamberlain to Anatolius, his lawyer friend who aids him in the investigation. The move to the climax however is a nice plot twist and unexpected. Overall, an enjoyable read when one desires to leave the grimy modern day mystery to one in the past.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Barbara
Wait for Eight
Seven for a Secret is an excellent addition to the series written by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer.After reading the previous six books, Lord Chamberlain John has become a friend along with his cast of characters. He is always involved in in intriguing mysteries. Now all I have to do is wait for eight!

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Robin
Seven For A Secret
The seventh installment in a historical mystery series, Seven For A Secret was definitely readable without having read the six previous novels. However, some additional details into the characters of this seventh book would have been nice in a "Prologue" of sorts. The plot was very twisty and hard to predict at times (like any good mystery should be). At times the storyline felt far removed and reading got very slow, but it picked up towards the end of the book. Everything was tidied up nicely at the end, but much of it seemed to be coincidental. This book would be great for fans of the previous 6 books of this series, but it dragged a little for someone who isn't familiar with the time and storyline.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Norman
Seven for a Secret
The historical details proved to be the most compelling part, but I did not actually care enough about the characters or the plot to strongly recommend this book. I most likely would have started another book and let this one gather dust except for the need to write a review.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Elizabeth
Historical mystery with an unusual setting
When I requested this book to review, I didn't realize it was part of a mystery series. I think it would have been very helpful to have read the other books in the series first because there isn't much explanation of the characters or background story that you often find in other mystery series. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book. Despite its early middle ages setting (around the middle 500s), the story and characters felt modern. I mean that in the best possible way - the characters were believeable and inhabited their setting naturally; there weren't historical details thrown in for the sole purpose of showing off how much research the authors had done. I got caught up in the story and felt transported to that time period. The mystery was tied up neatly at the end, thankfully, because it seemed a little incoherent along the way - the pieces didn't fit together for me until almost the very end of the book. On the plus side, it kept me guessing! I liked the character of Anatolius. I will likely go back to read the other books in the series.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Kelly
Disappointing
Seven for a Secret was somewhat of a disappointing read. The time period of the story is full of possibilities and the authors did a good job of imagery with the daily life of Constantinople. My problem was that I could not become engaged with the characters because it felt like I was joining the story late in the game. I realize that this is the seventh in a series and I have not read any of the previous volumes. However, it would have been helpful to have a short synopsis of what has gone before. What events led John to become a eunuch and the Lord Chamberlain, what is his relationship with Cornelia, why is the city so unsafe? Most continuing series work the back-story of the returning characters into each volume, for the benefit of the new reader and to remind returning readers.

The story itself has several intriguing elements but overall it just felt like the authors were rushing to the conclusion. There were too many coincidences, little follow though on events, and an anti-climatic ending.

Overall, I would have a difficult time recommending the book to anyone except dedicated followers of the series.

...11 more reader reviews

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The husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer began writing together in 1992. After publishing several short stories in anthologies and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, One For Sorrow, their first full length novel about John, Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian I, appeared in 1999. They were honored with the 2005 Glyph Award for Best Book Series. The novels have been nominated for both the IPPY Best Mystery Award and the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery Award. In 2003 the American Library Association's Booklist Magazine named the John the Eunuch novels as one of its four Best Little Known Series.

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