The Seventh Sinner (Jacqueline Kirby Series #1)

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What lies beneath . . .

At first, Jean Suttman thought she had died and gone to heaven when she was granted the opportunity to study in Rome. But the body that’s lying in the ancient subterranean Temple of Mithra—the murdered corpse of a repulsive and disliked fellow student—is far from her idea of heavenly. Now she’s truly frightened, and not just because small “accidents” seem to be occurring around her with disturbing regularity. It’s the ever-increasing certainty that ...

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The Seventh Sinner (Jacqueline Kirby Series #1)

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What lies beneath . . .

At first, Jean Suttman thought she had died and gone to heaven when she was granted the opportunity to study in Rome. But the body that’s lying in the ancient subterranean Temple of Mithra—the murdered corpse of a repulsive and disliked fellow student—is far from her idea of heavenly. Now she’s truly frightened, and not just because small “accidents” seem to be occurring around her with disturbing regularity. It’s the ever-increasing certainty that someone, for some unknown reason, is ruthlessly determined to do her harm. Jean’s innocent underground excursion into a sacred pagan place has trapped her in something dark and terrifying, and even the knowledge that practical, perceptive fellow American Jacqueline Kirby is on the case won’t ease her fears. Because there’s only so far Jean Suttman can run . . . and no escape for her except death.

For vibrant, lovely Jean Suttman, the fellowship to study in Rome was the culmination of all her dreams--until she undertook an innocent expedition to the ancient Temple of Mithra and became involved in a murder investigation! "This author never fails to entertain."--Cleveland Plain Dealer. Reissue.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061999390
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/30/2011
  • Series: Jacqueline Kirby Series, #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 528,303
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Peters

Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago's famed Oriental Institute. She was named Grand Master at the inaugural Anthony Awards in 1986 and Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America in 1998. In 2003, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Malice Domestic Convention. She lives in a historic farmhouse in western Maryland.


Neither the Great Depression nor the lack of a public library in her small hometown of Canton, Illinois, deterred Barbara Mertz (the future Elizabeth Peters) from becoming an avid reader. Yet, when her family moved to a suburb of Chicago, she was elated to discover the riches contained in the town's local library and proceeded to devour every book she could get her hands on. She began writing in high school; but by that time she had already decided to become an archaeologist.

Mertz received a scholarship to the University of Chicago, which boasted a world-famous Egyptology department. Her mother, an eminently practical soul, encouraged her daughter to become a teacher; but after taking only two education courses, Mertz knew a career in the classroom was not for her. Determined to follow her dream, she moved over to the university's Oriental Institute, and received her Ph.D. in Egyptology at the age of 23.

The post-WWII job market wasn't kind to women in general, much less to women seeking careers in archaeology. Mertz married and began a family, but never lost sight of her life's ambition. While she was raising her two children, she decided to try her hand at writing. Her first few attempts were never published, but they did land her an agent; and in 1964 she published her first book, Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs: A Popular History of Ancient Egypt.

Mertz authored two additional works on archaeology before foraying into fiction in 1966. The Master of Blacktower is the first of several gothic suspense novels written under the pseudonym Barbara Michaels. (In her biography, she explains that the use of pseudonyms helps readers to distinguish various types of books written by a single author.) The supernatural elements in the thrillers penned under the Michaels name have kept readers on the edge of their seats for decades.

In the 1970s, Mertz began writing under her second, more famous pseudonym, Elizabeth Peters. As Peters, she has authored books in three different series. Beginning in 1972 with The Seventh Sinner (1972), the first series features a glamorous librarian-turned-romance novelist named Jacqueline Kirby (the final Jacqueline Kirby mystery, Naked Once More, won a coveted Agatha Award in 1989). The second series, starring American art historian Vicky Bliss, debuted in 1973 with Borrower of the Night (Vicky's last outing was 2008's Laughter of Dead Kings). Then, in 1975, Peters introduced her most famous protagonist, archeologist/sleuth Amelia Peabody, in a dandy adventure entitled Crocodile on the Sandbank.

From the first, readers loved Amelia, a plucky Victorian feminist who—together with her husband, the distinguished Egyptologist Radcliffe Emerston—has gone on to solve countless mysteries in the Middle East. Peabody fans received an extra treat in 2003 with Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium to Her Journals, a nonfiction stroll through ancient Egypt that included nearly 600 photographs and illustrations, plus expert academic articles.

In addition to her three series, Mertz has written several standalone suspense novels as Elizabeth Peters. She has this to say about her successful, prolific career: "The craft of writing delights me. It is impossible to attain perfection; there is always something more to be learned—figuring out new techniques of plotting or characterization, struggling with recalcitrant sentences until I force them to approximate my meaning. And nothing is ever wasted. Everything one sees and hears, everything one learns, can be used."

Good To Know

The pseudonym Elizabeth Peters is taken from her two children, Elizabeth and Peter. She uses three pseudonyms so readers can tell the difference between the three types of books she writes: nonfiction archaeology as Barbara Mertz, supernatural thrillers as Barbara Michaels and historical mysteries as Peters. For the record, Mertz has called the pseudonyms "a horrible nuisance."
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    1. Also Known As:
      Barbara Mertz, Barbara Michaels
    2. Hometown:
      A farm in rural Maryland
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 29, 1927
    2. Place of Birth:
      Canton, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      August 8, 2013

Read an Excerpt

The Seventh Sinner

By Elizabeth Peters

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Elizabeth Peters

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060597208

Chapter One

Jean would never forget her first encounter
with Jacqueline Kirby. It was years before she
could think about it without blushing all over. An
acquaintance which begins with assault and battery,
however inadvertent, can hardly be termed

There was some slight excuse for Jean's behavior.
All morning she had been working, or trying
to work, in the Institute library. There were distractions.
First and omnipresent was the siren call
of the city outside the dusty library stacks. April
in Paris is famous, but May in Rome has an allure
that can distract the soberest student. The city of
Michelangelo and the dolce vita, the capital of the
papacy and the Caesars--whatever it is you may
be seeking, you can find it somewhere in Rome.
Jean's prized fellowship at one of the world's
most famous institutions of art and archaeology
was a poor substitute for Rome on a spring morning;
and the call of duty was not as effective as
Ulysses' waxen earplugs against the siren's song.

Michael was a second distraction, and if he was
not as overwhelming as an entire city, he was
closer at hand. Michael should have been working
too; but his sense of duty was as neglected as
his shaggy, shoulder-length brown hair. He
dithered aimlessly about the stacks,peering at
Jean through gaps in the shelved books and edging
up to her whenever she got into a dark corner.

Emerging, breathless and disheveled, from one
of these encounters, Jean had to admit she wasn't
avoiding them as wholeheartedly as she might
have done. Michael would leave her in peace if
she retired into her office and closed the door. The
small windowless cubicles assigned to the student
fellows were spartan affairs, with only a desk and
chair and a couple of bookcases. The doors had
glass panels on the upper halves, but they served
the same purpose as the sported oak of Oxford.
When the door was closed, the occupant did not
wish to be disturbed. Nothing less than a fire or
general insurrection justified so much as a knock.

As she stood contemplating her own office
door, Michael caught up with her again. His arm
went around her and Jean came back to her
senses with a start to find that her undisciplined
body was responding. She pulled away. All she
needed was to be caught in dalliance by one of
the members of the fellowship committee, two
weeks before that committee met to decide on the
renewal of student grants for a second year.

"All right," she hissed irritably. "I give up. . . .
No, damn it, I don't mean that! I mean, let's get
out of here."

Jean was never quite sure which of them was
responsible for the disaster. The Institute's halls
were magnificent expanses of polished marble.
As Jean emerged from the library she saw that the
corridor was deserted--a long, snowy stretch of
emptiness, shining like ice and just as slippery.
She couldn't resist. She broke into a run, with
Michael in enthusiastic pursuit.

They turned the corner together. Jean had one
flashing glimpse of a face, openmouthed in consternation,
and then there was a melee of flailing
arms and legs, a stifled shriek, and a dull thud.
She and Michael, who had somehow kept their
feet, stood staring down at a prostrate, motionless

"Holy Christ," said Michael sincerely. "Is she

The fallen woman didn't look very lively. Jean
had seen her in the library during the past few
weeks and had classified her, disinterestedly, as a
summer visitor--a teacher or scholar. She usually
wore neat tailored dresses and horn-rimmed
glasses, and her hair was pulled back into a severe
knot at the back of her neck.

In her present state of collapse she looked quite
different. Ahuge purse had gone flying at the impact,
and its contents littered the floor for yards around, like the debris left by a miniature tornado.
The demure knee-length skirt had been
disarranged, displaying legs that drew an admiring
whistle from Michael. A shaft of sunlight fell
across the woman's head and shoulders, spotlighting
a face whose features looked pallid and
austere--high cheekbones, a firm chin, long,
curved lips like the mouth of an archaic Greek
statue. The hair was spectacular. It had been loosened
by the fall, and lay about the peaceful face
like a pool of molten bronze, gleaming with
amber highlights.

"Did we kill her?" Michael demanded.

"Don't be ridiculous. . . . I hope not!"

Suddenly, without preliminary fluttering or
blinking, the closed eyes opened. They were a
true, clear green, an unusual color for human
eyes. They looked translucent, like seawater, and
they focused on Jean with an expression of concentrated
malevolence made all the more alarming
by contrast with the placidity of the face in
which they were set.

The woman's compressed lips parted.

"Here, too, O Lord?" a plaintive voice inquired.

Jean, who had been thinking in terms of concussion,
revised her diagnosis. Clearly there was
some kind of brain damage. She dropped to her

"Don't try to talk," she said agitatedly. "Just
don't move. Did you break anything? Did you--"

"Did I break anything?" The implacable green
eyes moved on to examine Michael, who stirred
uneasily. "I have no intention of moving. I may
stay here for the rest of the day. It seems to be the
safest place. Unless you trample on helpless bodies
around here."

Jean sat back on her heels.

"I think you're all right."

"I am all right. Not good, but all right. No
worse than usual . . . I talk like this all the time.
Who are you?"

"Jean Suttman, Michael Casey," said Michael.
"Do you want me to help you up?"

"No," said his victim distinctly.

Michael sat down on the floor.

"Who are you?" he asked conversationally.

"Jacqueline Kirby."




Excerpted from The Seventh Sinner
by Elizabeth Peters
Copyright © 2006 by Elizabeth Peters.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fun if you like Rome - but not the most exciting book.

    This was a very quick and relatively fun read. I enjoyed it more because it's set in Rome - one of my favorite cities. The plot was entertaining but not terribly thrilling. And, unfortunately, I figured out the "big clue" and who the culprit was very quickly.
    Still, if you enjoy escaping to a lovely city for some light entertainment, then I would recommend this book.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted January 3, 2010

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    Posted August 30, 2009

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    Posted June 8, 2013

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    Posted January 9, 2010

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    Posted September 23, 2009

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