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