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Seven Cities of Greed



Jean Sheldon has given us another great summer read. If you enjoy the thrill of pursuing ancient mysteries and eluding the bad guys, you'll enjoy this book. When an ancient journal purporting to be the work of a fraudulent friar accompanying a conquistador's search for gold falls into the hands of a bookstore owner, the chase is on. Murder and mayhem follow the five intrepid women who want to discover if there is indeed hidden gold... Sheldon handles the multiple characters deftly so there is no trouble in following them through the plot. Warning: Her research may inspire you to visit the great Southwest.

Alice Lynn, author Wrenn and Volunteer for Glory


A very entertaining treasure hunt and thriller, somewhat reminiscent of the "Sisterhood" series by Fern Michaels with its mixed group of heroes.  Jean Sheldon has written an adventure based on legend and history from the invasion of the Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s and the discovery of a journal presumably dated from 1539.

The reader is brought into the story very quickly with the abduction of Jacqueline Tracy, who has unwittingly purchased this journal at a book auction because she liked the carved leather cover. She has a tendency to forget about auction purchases until they are delivered and so is unable to tell her kidnappers where the journal is.

Jackie's friends, almost all middle-aged including Jackie, soon realize she is missing. The police won't do anything until there is more information, so the women turn to Jackie's friend Nicole, an ex-cop and now private investigator. Little do they know the abuse Jackie is going through, nor the kindness of one of her captors, a giant of a man.

Her group of merry girls manages to rescue her, but they are incredulous when Jackie hires Chuck, the captor's 7'4" assistant, to be her bodyguard, and she won't take "no" for an answer. She is sure he is a good man and didn’t want any part in the kidnapping but had his own reasons for being involved. What impressed her was his kindness and his assistance in helping with her escape. Their group now numbering six including Jackie's Aunt Beth and Chuck, starts trying to sort out what the kidnapping was all about. While Jackie was away, a parcel that had been overlooked in a delivery truck finally made its arrival, and of course, it is the journal being sought after by somebody pulling the strings in the background regarding Jackie's kidnapping.  Someone with a great deal of money and a ruthless greed.

Gwen, a psychiatrist in their close-knit group of friends, is able to translate most of the ancient Spanish, touching off a decision to go to New Mexico. Several things happen that hurry them on their way. Our modern group sets off on a vacation which, though exciting, is not at all the kind of excitement they expected or wanted. 

There are several interesting characters in this book, not all in a good way. Our motley but hardy crew is made up with Jackie and her adventurous aunt Beth. Beth Tracy has raised Jackie in Chicago from childhood, the city where all their friends live, but still maintains the house in New Mexico where Jackie lived before her parents died. Pat, whose partner recently died, lives with her cat Zodiac above the bookstore Jackie owns. Nicole, the P.I., Gwen, the psychiatrist, and Chuck, Jackie's new friend, bodyguard and excellent cook. Then there are the "bad" guys under the thumb and threat of one psychotic "Conquistador".

This book surprised me. I learned some history along the way, the legend of the "streets paved with gold" as understood from the journal, that middle-age can be exciting, loyal friendship is a wonderful thing to have, and when you are being chased by a madman always watch your back!  Ms. Sheldon has mixed adventure, terror, history, and the beauty of New Mexico into a story I didn't want to put down. The characters, even the worst of them, molded a certain fascination into the story. I feel with these characters she has the makings of a series, though I have no idea if that is in the author's future. She has written a variety of books and possibly prefers stand-alone stories. I want to keep my eye on this author's output, I'm sure it will be interesting.

Reviewed by Betty Gelean


Jean Sheldon’s latest book, Seven Cities of Greed, sets a new gold standard for mysteries. It’s about a hand-carved leather journal that finds its way to the wrong hands, bought at an auction by Jacqueline (Jackie) Tracy, part owner and major financial backer of Zodiac’s Rare & Used Books, named after the black cat of another of its owners, Patricia (Pat) Sexton. The journal was meant to be purchased by someone else, working for the rich, greedy and villainous bad guy of the novel, Samuel Barnes, but a delayed plane flight made Jackie the highest bidder, not Barnes’s henchman. Barnes believes that the journal contains information about where the legendary Seven Cities of Cibola, also known as the Seven Cities of Gold, are located, so he has some of his hired help kidnap Jackie and take her to a cabin in Wisconsin to interrogate her. Having forgotten she even bought the journal, though, because of a hold up in its delivery and because of her forgetful nature, she has no clue what her kidnappers are talking about when they demand information about the location of the journal.

Fortunately for Chicagoan Jackie, one of her friends is Nicole (Niki) Jordan, “a retired Chicago police officer turned private investigator.” Niki, Pat, and psychiatrist Gwen Garcia-Wilson, another of Jackie’s friends and co-owner of the bookstore, plan how rescue Jackie. The friends have known each other for over thirty years, having met at Northwestern University. They know their were Wisconsin license plates on the vehicle that the kidnappers used, and they know a couple of the numbers on the plate, and with Niki’s police department ties, they manage to follow their leads to the cabin and rescue their friend.

This is only the beginning, though, of the women’s adventures. Samuel Barnes is still after the journal, and his men have ransacked the bookstore, scattering books all over the place in their search for the book. When the journal finally does turn up at the store, delivered late, the women at first don’t know what it’s about, since it’s written in an old style of Spanish, but they know it’s important enough that someone would even resort to kidnapping to obtain it. Gwen is able to translate it, since she has learned Spanish, and she tells the other women when they meet at a restaurant that if the journal isn’t a forgery, it seems to have been written by “a person writing about his travels with Marco de Niza in 1539. They explored land that today is Arizona and New Mexico.” What’s more, de Niza “led the first expedition to land north of Mexico in search of a place called Cibola and the Seven Cities of Gold.”

The women decide to go to New Mexico to try to find the gold cities, or more likely, caverns filled with gold for themselves. They will also try to get the journal authenticated further, but even if they have no luck finding the gold, at least it has the makings of being an enjoyable vacation. Jackie’s aunt Elizabeth has a house there they plan to use, because her aunt and Jackie had lived there, Elizabeth having raised her after Jackie’s parents both died. Jackie was also traumatized by having been kidnapped when she was a young girl living in New Mexico, so she has some mixed emotions about going back, but wants to face her past to help her get over it once and for all.

I lived in Illinois when I was younger, and I really liked the author’s references to the streets, buildings, and neighborhoods she mentions. She must have either lived there at one time, or has done her research very well. The same goes for the chapters of the novel set in New Mexico - her descriptions are very vivid, and along with her excellent knack at character development and creating characters who seem three dimensional, Jean Sheldon is quickly turning into one of my favorite mystery authors.

There’s plenty of mystery and suspense throughout the novel, and you want to keep reading late into the night to find out what happens next. I really liked Jean Sheldon’s first novel, the historical mystery about WWII spies and women pilots, The Woman in the Wing, and in Seven Cities of Greed, Sheldon shows continued growth as a writer and that she is a definite force to be reckoned with as one of today’s most talented mystery authors. If you love reading mysteries full of action and adventure, you should mine this rich vein of gold today, and strike the mother lode for yourselves, as I did!

Reviewed by Douglas R. Cobb


Seven Cities of Greed is a light-hearted Indiana Jones type mystery. A group of friends from Chicago come into possession of a seemingly valuable journal, pointing the way to lost Aztec treasure. The journal is also being sought by a greedy, arrogant man who will do anything to get his hands on it. Thus begins a chase across the American southwest to find this treasure. The Chicagoans will soon learn that their lives are at risk as long as they have the journal, for someone in the shadows is controlling events. Is the journal genuine or merely a fabrication? It may cost the Chicagoans their lives to find out. I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. It’s a quick read, not so quick as to be boring but short enough to finish during a short trip when you need to occupy your time in some way. This would definitely fall into the category of “cozy mystery, “which describes mysteries with very little violence involving very normal people. I have always enjoyed novels which weave historical fact with fiction and this book is an excellent example of this. The plot moves swiftly and there is good character development.  I enjoyed reading it quite a bit and give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewed  by Jud Hanson


The desire for money is the desire for power, which drives way too many people. "Seven Cities of Greed" tells the story of Jacqueline Tracy and her friends as they find a journal which may hold the locations of the legendary cities of Gold. But knowledge is also power as there are people out to take Tracy's book for their own greed, making Tracy's own journey all the more perilous. "Seven Cities of Greed" is an insightful and very highly recommended pick for general fiction readers.

Midwest Book Review


My Take:  I thought this book was pretty good.  I really enjoyed the characters and the mystery and will read other books by this author.  

Pat, Jackie and Gwen all own a used book store called Ziodiac's Rare and Used Books.  Jackie is wealthy, Gwen is a psychiatrist and Gwen lives above the store and manages the bookstore.  Their frined Nicole is a former cop turned private investigator.  

The story opens with Jackie being kidnapped the other ladies trying to rescue her.  The bookstore is ransacked so they figure that her kidnapping must have something to do with a recent purchase that she made.  A Mysterious package arrives and they find a handwritten journal that looks authentic.  They start to read it and discover that it is a journal of a fake monk on the expedition to find the seven cities of gold. 

They rescue Jackie and she hires one of her kidnappers as her body guard (this part I found alittle unbelievable expecially for the fact that one of her friends was a former cop and she (the cop) didn't question the whole thing more).  They figure out where the gold should be and head to New Mexico to find it all the while being chased by a man who will stop at nothing to get the journal. 

Mindy Detweiler


Who knew that owning a bookstore could be so dangerous? Certainly the thought escaped Jacqueline Tracy and her friends. When she purchased an old leather journal at an auction she expected to get a good read out of it, turns out she got more than that. Not only does the journal hold historical information about New Mexico in the 1530’s some believe that it holds information that can lead you to the Seven Cities of Cibola, the cities of gold. With a rare find on their hand the friends soon find themselves in one near disaster after another. When you combine the fact that the journal is thought to be a treasure map, and the fact that the one who seeks the journal thinks of himself as the reincarnated Emperor of Cibola, this makes for one daring adventure.

Plus through out the book we see that the beginning of each chapter is inscribed with bits from the journal. Who will reach the Seven Cities of Cibola first, or do they even exist? Find out in Jean Sheldon’s “Seven Cities of Greed”

When it comes to mysteries, I am normally not a big fan, but when I started reading “Seven Cities of Greed”, by Jean Sheldon I found that I could not put the book down. The way the author wrote the story it was two stories in one, without one overshadowing the over. Plus a bit of history never hurt a book in my opinion. Although I will say that there was places in this book that dragged on, but they were few and far between, so that they plot actually advanced quickly. If you are a reader that likes a bit of History with your Mystery then you should give “Seven Cities of Greed”, by Jean Sheldon a try.

 Angela Simmons




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