ffb: The Seventh Sacrament by James Bradberry

this is the 157th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books

The Seventh Sacrament by James Bradberry, St. Martin’s Press, 1994 – hardcover, mystery, architect Jamie Ramsgill, first in series

“A light rain drifted out of the sky as the plane touched down in Verona.”

Seventh SacramentHaving taken architecture classes in college, a mystery featuring an architect is immediately appealing to me, I’ll give it a try every time. I had this sitting on the nightstand for a while before I started it, but once I started reading I went straight through and enjoyed it. That isn’t to say it’s for everyone. There’s a fair amount of architecture stuff in here, not enough to put off someone who doesn’t know the lingo or care about the trade, but enough to make me happy. So there are a lot of things I liked about this mystery that have nothing to do with the writing, plot or characters.

Renzo Piruzzi is one of the richest men in Italy, and he has gathered six of the world’s top architects together at his villa for a competition to design his company’s world headquarters. The commission is worth five million dollars (remember, this is twenty years ago). Jamie Ramsgill, a professor of architecture at Princeton, has been brought in as an architectural advisor. He tells the story in first person.

Over the course of the weekend, each architect is required to complete a design, working alone and in complete isolation from the outside world. The architects will be sequestered each in a separate guest pavilion outfitted with all the materials required. The group will meet each evening for dinner in the villa’s dining hall and dessert in the library. The submissions will be judged by Piruzzi with Ramsgill as consultant and the winner awarded the prize. The surprise Piruzzi has for the architects, once they have all arrived and agreed to his terms is that the design is not for the company world headquarters, but for a chapel to be built on the villa grounds. Piruzzi has thus insured none of the competitors could prepare ahead of time.

One by one, the architects start dying. Ramsgill turns sleuth and theorizes that each murder is inspired by one of The Seven Sacraments, a theme in Catholic art. He concludes all six competitors and possibly himself are targets.

This first novel by Bradberry may be a bit mechanical in places, but it’s well written and adequately plotted with a pleasing ending. It kept me reading and I liked the Ramsgill character. I enjoyed this and have the next in the series on hand. I’m looking forward to it.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

More Friday Forgotten Book posts
can be found at Patti Abbott’s fine blog Pattinase

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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11 Responses to ffb: The Seventh Sacrament by James Bradberry

  1. Sounds interesting. A bit of architecture won’t put me off. It doesn’t sound like a lot of info dumps which can kill a book’s momentum.

  2. Richard says:

    Randy, there are a couple of architectural discussions, easily skipped, but this isn’t a slam bang fast paced thriller by any stretch.

  3. Jeff Meyerson says:

    It does sound interesting. I’ve heard of Bradberry but never read him – to be honest, with all the books piled up I probably never will but time will tell.

  4. I’m with Randy on info dumps (this happens a lot in SF books). Like Jeff, I’ve heard of Bradberry but I don’t have any of his books. If I run across some, I’ll pick them up based on your review.

  5. My son might like this, given that he is studying to be an architect.

  6. Richard says:

    Jeff, you may have heard of him in The Perp, when the spa was flourishing, as I wrote about him there. In fact, this is a revised review therefrom.

  7. Richard says:

    George, see my comment to Jeff, above. My suggestion would be to try this before you pick up any others.

  8. Richard says:

    Charles, yes this – and THE VERGE PRACTICE might both be of interest to him. Where is he studying? I went to University of Arizona.

  9. Yvette says:

    I instantly thought of THE VERGE PRACTICE myself, Richard. Especially since I glowingly recommended it a few weeks ago. 🙂 I’ve never heard of James Bradberry, but this does sound interesting. I don’t mind learning a few things while I read just so long as it’s not preaching or ‘info dumps’ which can be off-putting. But then of course, it all depends on the writing. I’ll put up with a lot for a cleverness and good style.

  10. Richard, I love looking at architecture, especially Gothic and Victorian, of which we have a fair amount in old parts of Bombay and other Indian cities, thanks to the British. In fact, my media group includes a magazine on architecture and interiors. I like the sound of this novel and the idea of a crime set around the field of architecture.

  11. Richard says:

    Prashant, I have no idea if this and the following two novels would have made it to India, they were small sellers here in the U.S. and were only hardcovers. If you come across one, give it a try.

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