Seven For A Secret cover



""In the seventh mystery featuring Lord Chamberlain John, councilor to the emperor Justinian, John investigates a crime that affects him personally: the murder of a woman who claims to be the model for a mosaic on the wall of Johnís study, a source of inspiration to him for years. Solving the crime involves navigating the mean streets of Constantinople, and as always in this series, the authors bring those streets to vivid life. This isnít one of those superficial mysteries that use historical trappings to cover up a weak story; itís a compelling crime novel that happens to be set in another time and place. ó David Pitt, Booklist, January 2008.


"As Guy Mitchell warbled, Seven is the Cloud nearest Heaven. Many notable groups come in septets: Deadly Sins, Hills of Rome, Brides for Brothers - the beat goes on...Reed and Mayer's completion of their first heptad keeps the numerological magic alive.

"In this latest outing (Seven for a Secret), Lord Chamberlain John, always impressively (for a eunuch) on the ball, attempts to solve the mysterious murder of a mysterious woman, flitting from her mosaic image to the real thing. As always, the body count rises rapidly. Settings and action move from the dangerous slums of Constantinople to the more sinister perils of the Great Palace, still housing the unpredictable emperor Justinian and his malevolent consort Theodora. With consummate skill, Reed-Mayer keep this daemonic couple brooding over every page without (this time) granting them a single on-stage scene. The cool last-page recounting of Theodora's intended punishment of the girl Agnes is as horripilatory as anything I have read in the genre.

"Other regulars make effective reappearances: Anatolius the young tippling libertine; Felix, Captain of the palace guards; Isis, the seen-it-all, know-it-all brothelmonger; John's faithful servant Peter. Particularly welcome is the manic poetaster Crinagoras, my favourite character. A new and striking wrinkle is Reed-Mayer's unflattering treatment of the real-life Byzantine historian Procopius, whose writings range from servile eulogy to preposterous vilification of the royal couple - I hope they will develop this in future adventures, and also bring in the similarly-treated general Belisarius (plus wife Antonina - worthy foils to the imperial pair), whose secretary he was. As ever, Reed-Mayer have done their homework well, bringing sixth-century Constantinople to multi-hued life without over-egging the pudding of small details (a common vice in historical fictions of all periods). The usual Glossary of people, places, and things well serves readers old and new, as would (perhaps) a separate cast of characters.

"Even the best series run out of steam - though we all wept, Colin Dexter was wise to kill off Morse when he did. albeit one wishes British television would get cracking with the promised Inspector Lewis sequel. Dalziell and Pascoe are staling, despite Reginald Hill's verbal pyrotechnics, whilst Wexford's latest outing was a distinct let-down. But Reed-Meyer show no signs of flagging, and their current form makes one hope their numbers will last as long as Sue Grafton's letters." --Barry Baldwin, January 2008

| Home | Eric's Stuff | Mary's Page | Our Fiction | Behind the Scenes | BSP Page | Links |