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Seven for a Secret

A John the Eunuch Mystery

by Mary and Eric Mayer Reed

Seven for a Secret by Mary and Eric Mayer Reed
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2008
    304 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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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.
Norma

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.
Power Reviewer Kim

Great historical mystery
While not a great work of literature, Seven for a Secret is very well written, particularly for the genre. It provides everything a good mystery novel should – suspenseful plotting, nice twists, interesting characters. It kept me entertained & guessing until the end. Although at some point I was pretty sure I knew what was going on, there were still a couple of surprises at the end. It wasn’t perfect – it depended a bit too much on coincidence. The protagonist’s detective work, however, would have made Sherlock Holmes proud. It was overall a well-constructed mystery, and everything wrapped up nicely in a very satisfying way. Although the seventh book in the series, it stood on its own just fine. I enjoyed it enough that I’m planning to read more books in the series.
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