The first in a series of novels starring the many-faceted Jacqueline Kirby, The Seventh Sinner is a tale of mystery and murder set in the beautiful city of Rome. After being run into by two student fellows, Jean and Michael, Jacqueline reluctantly agrees to join them for lunch as a way for them to apologize. This accidental friendship between herself and Jean grows with each encounter, until Jacqueline begins to join them on their exploratory excursions – along with the rest of the group, jokingly nicknamed “The Seven Sinners.”
Also joining them is an obnoxious irritation of a man, Albert. No one in the Seven Sinners likes him and they try as best as they can to ignore him and his broken English rants about some discovery or another he thinks he’s made. Mentally disturbed and physically disturbing, Albert shadows them to lunch, on their sightseeing, and even to one of their parties. His behavior annoys many and they are all glad when he is sent home, with the hopes they will not have to see him again.
Of course, when Jean finds him in the catacombs during one of their next sightseeing tours, gasping his last breaths through a slashed throat, everyone suddenly becomes more interested in Albert – or at least in his murder. Even more interesting, he managed to leave Jean a cryptic message as he passed – even as he lay dying, he traced his fingers in the dust, leaving his final message: “the number seven.” Jean tells this information to the police, in front of the group… and suddenly, she is being targeted by “accidents” that grow more and more deadly.
Suspense and thrills await between the covers of The Seventh Sinner. Peters’ casual yet intense style keep the reader fully engaged until the end, where the truth is finally revealed. The cast of characters is well-built and well-mixed, and even though not many of them are given an in-depth look, Peters expertly provides insight to them all. The story is told from Jean’s perspective (still in third person), but it is Jacqueline who is the true heroine of the story. And if solving mysteries wasn’t enough, she also provides a keen insight into the truths of human nature: “Don’t you know that we are all hydra-headed monsters?” she asks, referring to the dozens of personas a person projects throughout his or her lifetime.
It is just such a trait that gives this story its edge. While everyone seems to be friends, there is always another layer, another side, another hydra head that lurks, waiting for the chance to strike.
The Seventh Sinner is available at Amazon.com, and the ebook version is ready for download at Barnes & Noble.com. If you prefer to “try before you buy,” consider checking the book out from the Midland local library, Grace A. Dow.
Trivia Question: What is the name of the Lieutenant?