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    Review of SEVEN FOR A SECRET by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer


    Poisoned Pen Press, April 15, 2008

    For years, John, Lord Camberlain in the service of Emperor Justinian, has solved his problems by talking to the mosaic on his office wall. Zoe has never answered back, but her silent gaze has helped him. Never answered back, that is, until now. John is approached by a woman who claims to be the mysterious Zoe. Before they can meet, however, John discover's the woman's murdered body.

    The plague that recently hit Constantinople has faded, but there are plenty of other problems for a Lord Chamberlain to deal with... including constant plotting against the Emperor and his controversial wife, Theodora. As he investigates the murder, John runs into a number of disgruntled former officials, the author Procopius (who wrote 'The Secret Histories' detailing scandals of the Byzantine court), and learns that Zoe was actually Agnes, daughter of a disgraced former official.

    When John is attacked on the streets and his family threatened, he concludes that the murder is not an isolated event but somehow connected to a plot against the throne. The one rumor that seems both everywhere and constantly denied is that Theodora had a son before marrying Justinian and that this son is somewhere in the city.

    Authors Mary Reed and Eric Mayer (see more reviews of mysteries by Reed and Mayer) continue their charming 'John the Eunuch' series with a story set amongst the depravity of the court, the ongoing religious conflict among Christian factions and between these factions and residual paganism and mostly-soldier followers of Mithra. John's investigation among the mosaic-makers, antiquities-dealers, eunuchs and court officials, actors and nunneries of Constantinople paint a vivid picture of this cosmopolitan city at a time when it seemed that perhaps the Roman Empire could be recreated with Constantinople, New Rome, at its center.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 6/19/10

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