Book Review: The Eleventh Commandment #JohnSingerSargent #VernonLee

This is the fourth book in the John Singer Sargent/Violet Paget mystery series. The amateur sleuthing pair of artist John and writer Violet, who wrote under the name Vernon Lee, make a great combination. These lifelong friends are drawn into an archaeological mystery when John receives a package from an acquaintance, Moses Shapira. Shapira had recently been accused of promoting a fake manuscript of the ten commandments, with an eleventh commandment added! Is the package of leather strips that John received an original, or is it a fake? Not long after receiving the package, John and Violet learn of a suicide that could actually be a murder. In alternating chapters, we follow Moses Shapira as he discovers and tries to verify the manuscripts, and Violet and John as they investigate a possible murder and the origin of those same artifacts. This book can be read as a standalone.

The duo of John and Violet as amateur investigators is delightful. Their friendship and Violet’s insight make for an entertaining read. Their travels revolve around the arts and their investigation. Violet is an excellent narrator, and the book includes snippets about her work and John’s paintings. The fact that they were real-life friends who traveled extensively makes the books even more authentic. The mystery is intriguing and multi-layered. With Moses, we travel with Bedouin guides into the deserts of the Middle East, searching for treasures. With Violet and John, we visit Rotterdam and search for clues into a mysterious death. This is a captivating and multi-layered mystery with absolutely endearing main characters.

I received a free copy of this book from Word by Word Press via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.


Mary Burns’ varied writing experience includes more than twenty years in business and agency public relations and communications, including video scripts, radio commercials, annual reports, newsletters and executive speeches.  She managed the media coverage of the 1987 visit of Pope John Paul II to San Francisco, and was the producer of a local television morning talk show, Body and Soul.  She has run her own consulting business twice, alternating with corporate positions, and is currently pursuing several writing projects.

Mary’s creative fiction writing began with a short story that won a prize at the 2000 Mendocino (California) Coast Writers Conference.  Two other short stories garnered first places (see them at and She was an invited participant at the 2004 Squaw Valley Community of Writers conference in Lake Tahoe, California. Her first historical novel titled J-THE WOMAN WHO WROTE THE BIBLE, was published in July 2010 by O-Books Publishers, UK. She has just completed her fourth book in the JOHN SINGER SARGENT/VIOLET PAGENT MYSTERY SERIES.

For more information please visit Mary’s website.



7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Eleventh Commandment #JohnSingerSargent #VernonLee”

Leave a Reply to T. W. Dittmer Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s