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The Seventh Sinner

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The Seventh Sinner

Jacqueline Kirby Series, Book 1
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...
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...
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  • 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--isn't her idea of heavenly. Now she is truly frightened, 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.

 
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  • 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 auspicious.

    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 form.

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

    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.

About the Author-
  • 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.

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    HarperCollins
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The Seventh Sinner
The Seventh Sinner
Jacqueline Kirby Series, Book 1
Elizabeth Peters
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Jacqueline Kirby Series, Book 1
Elizabeth Peters
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