Seven for a Secret: A John, the Lord Chamberlain Mystery #7

By Eric Mayer, Mary Reed

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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?


"Sixth-century Constantinople-the capital of the Byzantine empire and the forerunner to modern Istanbul-is a mysterious and perilous city as the eunuch John, the Lord Chamberlain of the Emperor Justinian, well knows. In his seventh adventure (after Six for Gold), John finds the brutally murdered corpse of a young woman who had identified herself to him as a model for a mosaic he keeps in his study and who was about to give him some vital information. Discovering what that secret was takes John, walking a fine line between maintaining his loyalty to his emperor and searching for the truth, on a twisting route to a very dangerous ending. The authors get everything right in their latest historical. The story is fast paced, the tensions between characters well portrayed; the ending leaves the reader clamoring for more." --Library Journal, starred review (2/2/2008)

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