Mosaic of Justinian



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  • One For Sorrow
  • Two For Joy
  • Three For A Letter
  • Four For A Boy
  • Five For Silver
  • Six For Gold
  • Seven For A Secret
  • Eight For Eternity
  • Nine for the Devil
  • Ten for Dying
  • Murder in Megara
  • The Guardian Stones
  • Ruined Stones

    Reading Guide to John the Lord Chamberlain Series

    Poisoned Pen Press
    Our publisher


  • One For Sorrow
  • Two For Joy
  • Three For A Letter
  • Four For A Boy
  • Five For Silver
  • Six For Gold
  • Seven For A Secret
  • Eight For Eternity
  • Nine for the Devil
  • Reviews of all the books


    The Orphan Scrivener
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    Golden Age Mysteries
    Links to e-texts of classic & golden age mystery novels and short stories

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    E-texts of tales of the supernatural and classic ghost stories

    Mary's Reviews of
    Golden Age Mysteries

    About Us

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    Free Stories
    The Thorn
    A ghost story in the style of M.R. James.
    Or Equivalent Experience
    A ghost story by Mary.
    A ghost story.

    Personal essays, both serious and humorous as well as thoughts on writing.
    A Literary Ragbag
    Pdf chapbook with essays by Mary and Eric.
    Info about John's religion.

    Mystery and writing resources, author pages and more.

    In Constantinople the temperature is:

    Click for Constantinople Forecast

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  • The Guardian Stones cover Ruined Stones cover
    Click on cover for information or to order. Books may be ordered from Poisoned Pen Press or any bookstore on or offline.

    Praise for Ruined Stones
    "...handles the wartime setting (rife with paranoia) and the woman-in-a-man's-world theme with equal skill. A fine period mystery." David Pitt, Booklist

    "...hits all the high notes with a spunky, savvy heroine, small town idiosyncracies and a tumultuous time in world history " -- for the Love of Books

    "An in-depth look at what it was like in England during World War II and how women took over men's jobs, leading to a social revolution that continues today." -- Kirkus Reviews

    " it chills suspense novel. The tone and sense of time and place are near perfect." -- Martin Hill Otiz, It's Harder Not To blog

    "[Ruined Stones]... will take you away for an adventure to another time and place...-- Virginia McGee Butler, Goodreads

    "A mystery with dark and dangerous undercurrents that will keep you turning the pages. A "Must Read" for any serious fan of historical mysteries." -- Doward Wilson, KRL News and Reviews

    Praise for The Guardian Stones
    "A remote Shropshire town is beset by wartime demons even more insidious than the Third Reich....A fascinating look at a small town mired in the past and confronting the future -- with a bombshell ending." -- Kirkus Reviews

    "Shades of Arthur Miller's The Crucible pervade these pages...a nicely told historical mystery". -- Historical Novel Society Review

    "...a society falling to pieces, falling into darkness, hurting all that come within reach, a truly diabolical - and unsettling - story; a darkly atmospheric thriller set at a time when all the world (at least in Europe) seemed to be falling -literally- to pieces." -- Abbey Hamilton, Goodreads


    From the February issue of The Orphan Scrivener
  • Before Ceiling Cat
    by Mary (Reflections on ceilings)
  • A Very Peculiar Sheep
    by Eric (Reflections on the mystery genre)

    Mary talks about pets and writing at Heather Weidner's Pens, Paws, and Claws.

    There's an interview with Eric Reed, our not so secret pseudonym, at Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers.

    At The Southwest Armchair Traveler Mary writes about memorable cinematic scenes she's seen.

    In the wartime issue of The Mystery Readers Journal Mary writes about how criminals in Great Britain took advantage of conditions on the homefront during the Second World War.

    At B.K. Stevens Mysteries Mary analyzes how we wrote The First Two Pages of Ruined Stones.

    Mary visits Lelia Taylor's Buried Under books to write about a vacation walk involving a Bagpiper on the Beach.

    At PJ Nunn's bookbrowsing, Mary writes about Character Paper Doll for Promotional Use.

    At Marilyn's Musings, Mary describes the "Newcastle flat" type of housing she grew up in and which our protagonist Grace Baxter occupies in our new World War Two mystery Ruined Stones.

    A short ghost story for International Short Story Month (May): Waiting

    Author and blogger Terry Odell interviews Newcastle Auxiliary police officer Grace Baxter about her experiences as the protagonist of our new World War Two mystery Ruined Stones.
    Character Interview--Eric Reed's Grace Baxter.

    At Suzanne Adair's Relevant History Blog Mary writes about Operation Pied Piper: The Evacuation of British Children during World War Two.

    Eric Reed (Mary and Eric) is interviewed at Writers Who Kill.

    At Alicia Rasley's blog Mary writes about the origin of Noddweir, setting for The Guardian Stones, in A Stone Circle and an Imaginary Village.

    Read an excerpt from Murder in Megara at Historical Fiction Excerpts.

    At Patti Nunn's Bookbrowsing blog Mary talks about how writers of historical mystery fiction are occasionally handicapped by not being sure whether certain matters could take place in any given time period.
    Cat Mummies and Flying Lord Chamberlains

    more news...

    Ruined Stones

    Ruined Stones cover

    Surviving the 1941 Blitz and the predator in her small Shropshire village, policeman's daughter Grace Baxter moves to Newcastle-on-Tyne. Situated on the northern bank of the River Tyne, the ancient northeast city developed around the Roman settlement Pons Aelius-named for the Emperor Hadrian who built the famous wall right at the edge of the then civilized world. No matter its later history as a wool trade, then coal mining center, and the ship building that makes it a German bombing target, Newcastle's Roman past won't be ignored.

    Grace is eager to explore city life. And she's turned professional with an official job in the city's constabulary. The war means women can find work, even if most men in the job discount if not actively resent her.

    Grace's arrival coincides with the discovery of the body of a young woman, curiously difficult to identify, at the scanty ruins of a Roman temple situated across from a church. The bone-numbing cold, the fogs, and the Blitz, not to mention to peculiar behavior of some of the citizens and the hostility directed towards a woman in man's work, test Grace's resolve to be an effective officer. There are many potential leads, and much suspicious behavior to sort through. What role do ancient rituals play in the murder and what follows? What current misbehavior or crimes is someone, or someones, desperate to cover up? The investigation, carried out through fog and blackout and fear as well as the hostility of her colleagues, tests Grace's resolve to be an effective officer. Will it also endanger her life?

    Ruined Stones at Poisoned Pen Press

    The Guardian Stones

    Guardian Stones cover

    1941 Britain: Children are vanishing from the village. Is it the powers of an ancient stone circle at work, or a modern predator?

    In mid-1941, children evacuated to the remote Shropshire village of Noddweir to escape the Blitz begin to vanish. It was not uncommon for city children faced with rural rigors to run away. But when retired American professor Edwin Carpenter, pursuing his study of standing stones, visits the village and discovers bloody clothing in the forest, it is clear there is a more sinister explanation.

    The village constable is away on military duty so the investigation falls to his daughter Grace. Some villagers see the hand of German infiltrators bent on terror. The superstitious, mindful of the prehistoric stone circle gazing down on Noddweir, are convinced malevolent supernatural powers are at work. And Edwin, determined to help Grace find whatever predator is in play, runs into widespread resentment over America's refusal to enter the war.

    This atmospheric mystery will appeal to readers of Rennie Airth, Maureen Jennings, and both Ann Cleeves and Ann Granger.


    Death in Byzantium

    Death in Byzantium cover
    E-Book boxed set including One for Sorrow, Two for Joy, Three for a Letter and Four for a Boy. 1,200 pages.

    At the heart of what is left of the Roman Empire, lies a city simmering with intrigue & treachery. Amid this maelstrom stands John, ex-slave, now the right hand of Emperor Justinian. It is John's skills as an investigator that Justinian prizes the most. But the emperor is not a sentimental man. Nor is he a patient one. John knows his position is precarious. One misstep and his enemies may have him. And if they don't, the emperor himself almost certainly will.

    Death in Byzantium

    Other Appearances

    Bound by Mystery We have a new story in Bound by Mystery edited by Diane D. Dibiase. In celebration of its 20th anniversary, Poisoned Pen Press has commissioned original short stories from thirty-five of its authors, past and present. Our story, Time's Revenge, features John the Lord Chamberlain.

    more appearances...


    Murder in Megara

    "John's 11th case combines historical detail with a cerebral mystery full of surprises." -- Kirkus Reviews

    "Placing the lead in jeopardy in an unfamiliar setting makes this one of the more distinctive series entries."-- Publishers Weekly

    "Meticulous research makes this historical series set in the Byzantine empire a joy to read. Admirers of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis will enjoy exploring this ancient world." --Library Journal

    More Praise for John the Lord Chamberlain

    "...superior...the puzzle is challenging enough to keep readers searching for clues, but the triumph of the authors lies in their spot-on recreation of the political and bureaucratic climate of the times." -- Publisher's Weekly starred review for Nine for the Devil.

    "The authors once again make the Byzantine Empire vibrant and nuanced."
    --Library Journal review of Nine for the Devil

    "More complex and colorful than any Byzantine mosaic, Nine for the Devil, will sweep you back into the cruel intrigue-ridden court of the Emperor Justinian, where treachery and murder linger behind every shadowed column of the imperial palace in Constantinople."
    --Robin Burcell, award-winning author of The Bone Chamber, on Nine for the Devil.

    "Twisty plotting, fabulous dialogue, and aristocratic backstabbing drew me into this clever plot (Who killed an Empress who showed no signs of being murdered?) and I could not stop reading until I watched master problem-solver John dance his way out of the deadly wrath of his grieving emperor."
    --Jerrilyn Farmer, bestselling author of the Madeline Bean mysteries, on Nine for the Devil

    "Subtle, well-drawn characters, from the ascetic John to the capricious and enigmatic Justinian; deft descriptive detail revealing life in the late Roman Empire; and sharp dialogue make this another winner in this outstanding historical series." -- Publisher's Weekly starred review of Eight for Eternity
    Read the whole review.

    "The authors get everything right in their latest historical. The story is fast paced, the tensions between characters well portrayed; the ending leaves the reader clamoring for more."--Library Journal starred review of Seven for a Secret
    Read the whole review.

    About the Authors

    The husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer published several short John the Lord Chamberlain detections in mystery anthologies and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine prior to 1999's highly acclaimed first full length novel, One For Sorrow. Their protagonist's adventures continued in Two For Joy (2000), a Glyph Award winner in the Best Mystery category. Two For Joy also gained an Honorable Mention in the Glyph Best Book Award list and in addition was a finalist for the IPPY Best Mystery Award. Three For A Letter (2001), Four For A Boy (2003), and Five For Silver (2004) followed. The latter two novels were nominees for the Bruce Alexander History Mystery Award. Five For Silver won the 2005 Glyph Award for Best Book Series. In June 2003 the American Library Association's Booklist Magazine named the Lord Chamberlain novels as one of its four Best Little Known Series. Six For Gold appeared in 2005, Seven For A Secret in 2008, Eight For Eternity in 2010, Nine for the Devil in 2012, Ten For Dying in 2014 and Murder in Megara in October 2015 from Poisoned Pen Press. Head of Zeus is publishing the John the Lord Chamberlain series in the UK and Europe. In 2016 The Guardian Stones, a Grace Baxter mystery, was published under the pen name Eric Reed. The second in the series, Ruined Stones, will appear in July 2017.

    Lord Chamberlain Mysteries
    One For Sorrow cover Information on Two For Joy Three For A Letter cover Four For A Boy Cover Five For Silver cover
    Six For Gold cover Seven For A Secret cover Eight For Eternity cover Nine for the Devil cover Ten for Dying cover
    Grace Baxter Mysteries
    The Guardian Stones cover
    Click on cover for information or to order. Books may be ordered from Poisoned Pen Press or any bookstore on or offline.

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