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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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There are currently 17 reader reviews for Seven for a Secret
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Eileen (03/16/08)

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.
Barbara (02/25/08)

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!
Robin (02/13/08)

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.
Norman (02/10/08)

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.
Elizabeth (02/10/08)

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.
Kelly (02/10/08)

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.
Penny (02/09/08)

It's No Secret
I did not enjoy this book. In the first 100 pages I thought I would find a copy of book one and start at the beginning. But after the last 100 pages I decided against it. (296 total). The authors seem intent on drowning the reader in archaic terminology, long words, too many characters and a glossary. It's an interesting time in history and it could be a great story. The subjects are vibrant, yet the superfluous use of words kill the desire to get to the end, let alone read any of the other six books. There is one offhand sentence that explains why John, Lord Chamberlain is a eunuch and another sentence that explains the title of the book. Yet everything else is described in detail. The writing at times is uneven. Having just visited Istanbul the descriptions of the old city are well done. The book itself is over-written.
Cheryl (02/08/08)

Seven for a Secret
Because Seven for a Secret is the next in a series, I originally felt that I had to have read the earlier books to understand the characters, but I soon found that between the writing itself and the Glossary at the end of the book, I was able to enjoy the story.
John, Lord Chamberlain to Justinian 1, attempts to unravel the death of a mysterious woman, but the most interesting part of the book is the interaction with the merchants and denizens of Constantinople. I was fascinated with the historical aspects of the story.
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