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Seven for a Secret : A John the Lord Chamberlain Mystery
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?The answers seem to lie among the denizens of the smoky streets of that quarter of Constantinople known as the Copper Market, where artisans, beggars, prostitutes, pillar saints, and exiled aristocrats struggle to survive within sight of the Great Palace and yet worlds distant. John encounters a faded actress, a patriotic sausage maker, a sundial maker who fears the sun, a religious visionary, a man who lives in a treasure trove, and a beggar who owes his life to a cartload of melons. Before long he suspects he is attempting to unravel not just a murder but a plot against the empire. Or is John really on a personal quest, to find the reality behind the confidante he thought existed only in his own imagination? Is there such a thing as truth in a place where people live on memories, dreams, and illusions? Even if there is, can John push aside the shadows and find the truth in time?
In Reed and Mayer's engrossing seventh mystery set in sixth-century Constantinople (after 2005's Six for Gold), John, lord chamberlain to the emperor Justinian, has taken to sharing his thoughts with a young girl, whom he's named Zoe, depicted in the mosaic on his study wall. One day John meets a woman on the street who identifies herself as Zoe and claims to be the model for the child in the mosaic. Who could have revealed his secret confessor? John wonders. When John finds this mysterious woman brutally beaten to death in a cistern, he begins a dangerous investigation that will take him into the lives of prostitutes, artisans, beggars and religious fanatics. Once again convincing historical detail and strong characterization help drive a riveting plot. Fans will be pleased to know that while the title is based on the last line of the verse on which the series is based, the authors plan to send John to Italy in an eighth volume. (Apr.)
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Poisoned Pen Press
April 14, 2008
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