Seven for a Secret

Written by Eric Mayer Mary Reed
Review by Judith Starkston

In 6th-century Byzantium, John Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian discovers that name-dropping can be fatal. John confides his evening thoughts to a young mosaic “girl” whom he calls “Zoe,” but naturally she cannot respond. One day in the Copper Market, a young girl seizes him, begging for an appointment the next day. Seeing his confusion, she pulls aside her veil aside to whisper, “…I am Zoe!”

John’s bewilderment spurs his curiosity, but arriving at the assignation, he discovers that Zoe has been viciously murdered. Determined to find the killer and the motive for the murder becomes a personal obsession John pursues despite harm to himself and danger to his family – not to mention risking the ire of the evil Empress Theodora when he uncovers an unsavory palace secret.

The redoubtable John and his irrepressible companions then lead the reader through a riveting chase among the denizens of the city with peculiarities that are not without humor. Although seventh in the series, this novel sustains on its own and is highly recommended for newcomers to the era or old friends who cannot get enough of engrossing historical intrigue.