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
    Genre: Mysteries

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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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Reader Reviews

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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!

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.

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.

Cheryl

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.

Mary

Appearances can be deceiving
Reed and Mayers' carefully crafted mystery is a delightful opus which takes the reader on an exotic journey to 6th century Constantinople. There, the Lord Chamberlain to Justinian investigates the murder of a young woman, but finds the mystery changes slightly with each suspect he interviews until its threads envelope him like a spider's web threatening his life and the lives of those he loves.Keeping the mystery tight, and the writing clear, the story comes to a satisfactory and satisfying conclusion, depositing this reader back in her arm chair...and keeping in mind the politics of Justinian and Theodora, with her head safely on her shoulders.

Jean

Sven For A Secret
Through the investigation of the Lord Chamberlain, we are transported into Constantinople, 6th century CE. We experience the life of the privileged and the deprived, we roam the streets and alleys of Constantinople and are introduced to life under a dictator.

The story reminds one of an Elizabethan mystery where one is placed in a circumstance that is foreign and uncertain. A wonderful mystery in the classical genre.

If you enjoy an adventure in a foreign land this is a book for you. Great reading for people of all ages.

...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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