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Book spotlight (General fiction): The Seventh Sinner by Elizabeth Peters

The Seventh Sinner by Elizabeth Peters
The Seventh Sinner by Elizabeth Peters
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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, and the ebook version is ready for download at Barnes & 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?


  • aslindy 5 years ago

    Elizabeth Peters is one of my favorite authors! Thanks for this excellent review of a terrific book! This is a great series.
    Have you read her books about Amelia Peabody Emerson? It is one my my favorite series. Fabulous!

  • Kim 5 years ago

    I also really adore The Amelia Peabody series that Peters wrote. I have yet to start this series, but I did read a Vicky Bliss mystery. How would you say Vicky Bliss compares to Jacqueline Kirby? I love that all of Peters' women are strong and intelligent, but still have a typical human "weakness", i.e. stubborness, slight vanity... etc.
    Thanks for the article!

  • Melody 5 years ago

    I had never heard of this book before, but you have me hooked. I need to hunt down a copy.

  • Dagda 5 years ago

    I love fantasy fiction... a lot! Normal world stuff hardly ever catches my interest, but once again, you have done that! And extremely well I add.This is a book that I can't wait to read. Thank you again for a great review and one that gives us enough information to whet our pallet without spoilers. Keep up the good work!

    Typed by my own two hands,

  • Addie.Aynsley 5 years ago

    This sounds super cool!!

    Excellent review :)

  • SarahLindesmith 5 years ago

    aslindy: I haven't read the Amelia Peabody series yet, but my sister loves them and keeps telling me to read them, so I'm sure I'll get there. I started the first one once but didn't get into the story because of the narrative style, but I will give it another shot.
    Kim: sorry, haven't read Vicky Bliss yet either! I only just found the Jacqueline Kirby books recently and they're my first real taste of Peters. I'll have to read one and get back to you. :)

  • SarahLindesmith 5 years ago

    Dagda and Melody and Addie: thanks! good to know you like the articles and that good books are still gaining fans. If you need/want help hunting down a copy in your area, let me know - if you're a local Midlander, obviously, I'd send you straight to Grace A. Dow or Barnes and Noble, but if you're not from around here then I can search your local area (assuming you let me know where that is) to help find a bookstore/library that carries it.

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