Seven for a Secret
Mary Reed and Eric Mayer
Poisoned Pen, Apr 2008, $24.95
In mid sixth century Constantinople, the lord chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, John the Eunuch, has found a confident whom he shares his concerns and issues though she does not speak back to him. Instead she is a young girl painted on a mosaic on his wall. He calls her Zoe.
One day John is stunned as he sees his Zoe on the street. He introduces himself and she says her name is Zoe and that she was the model for that mural. John is stunned by her revelations and has doubts about her name; he ponders who overheard his discussions with the wall Zoe. However, before he can confront the woman, someone brutally murders her. John assumes to silence her so he investigates not realizing his past and the Empress Theodora are intermingled with the death of Zoe.
John’s investigation is clever and fun to follow, but like the previous six numbered tales, it is the insightful look at ancient history that makes SEVEN FOR A SECRET (and its predecessors) a great reading experience. John is at his best as each step he takes is dangerous and increasingly personal as he begins to unravel ties back to himself. Ancient historical mystery readers know the John the Eunuch tales are one of the best series on the market; and though the verse is finished with SEVEN FOR A SECRET, hopefully Mary Reed and Eric Mayer will write number eight for their fans.