Mosaic of Justinian



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  • One For Sorrow
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  • Three For A Letter
  • Four For A Boy
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  • Seven For A Secret
  • Eight For Eternity
  • Nine for the Devil
  • Ten for Dying

    Reading Guide to John the Lord Chamberlain Series

    Poisoned Pen Press
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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
  • Reviews of all the books


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    A ghost story in the style of M.R. James.
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    A ghost story by Mary.

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    Pdf chapbook with essays by Mary and Eric.
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  • Byzantine Trivia Quiz

    Info about John's religion.

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    In Constantinople the temperature is:

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  • Ten for Dying cover 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
    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
    Click on title or cover for information or to order. Books may be ordered from Poisoned Pen Press or any bookstore on or offline.

    Nine for the Devil
    Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

    "In Reed and Mayerís superior ninth mystery set in sixth-century Constantinople...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, 1/9/2012

    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 -- Available from Head of Zeus December 1, 2013.

    Newest Website Additions

    From the February issue of The Orphan Scrivener
  • Oil Drops Kept Falling on Their Heads
    by Mary (old fashioned street lamps)
  • Updike and Me
    by Eric (reading John Updike)


    At Mustard Seed Marketing Mary has a marketing tip for When the Piggy Bank Has Lean Rashers.

    At The LadyKillers Blog, Eric talks about our vintage 1995 website in Websites Insights

    At The LadyKillers Blog, Mary explores some old English folk customs in her essay Cheese and Bread and Fairies, Oh my!

    Mary and I talk with Barbara Leavy about our series and Five For Silver set during the Justinianic plague.

    Mary and I are interviewed at Mysteristas

    Mary writes about the amazing automatons envisioned by Heron of Alexandria and the uses we made of them in the John the Lord Chamberlain mystery Three for a Letter, including a mechanical whale: Type M for Murder

    At Buried Under Books, Mary reflects on stories of ordinary people. Did You Ever Hear That Story About.

    At Kings River Life, Mary writes about cats-meat men, organ grinders and other vanished professions in Grinding Out A Living

    Mary and I answered The Dames' Dozen (questions that is) over at Dames of Dialog.

    At Joanne Tropello's Author's Corner Blog, Mary offers new way to measure the weather:The Sock Index

    We're in The Interview Room at Terry Odell's Terry's Place to talk about such diverse topics as which kitchen utensil we would be and the strangest thing we've done done in the name of research.

    We're interviewed at Holli Castillo's Twelve Question Tuesday -- one question was whether we would be food or fighter were the zombie apocalypse to happen.

    Suzanne Adair's Relevant History blog is graced with Mary's essay on spontaneous combustion, occurrences of which took place in Two For Joy, not to mention Bleak House, at Fiery Death: Spontaneous Combustion in Literature and Life.

    Mary writes about Mark Twain's opinion of relics in The Innocents Abroad at Jean Henry Mead's View From My Mountaintop.

    Over on Joanne Tropello's site Mary set forth some thoughts on the value of websites for authors and others, not least their round-the-clock promotional presence. Guest blog at Mustard Seed Marketing

    At Poe's Deadly Daughters we talk about inventing a religion for one of our mysteries. Or at least we thought we were inventing one....Inventing a Religion...or Not

    In the April SPAWN newsletter Mary writes about how our Byzantine mystery series began with a very short story in an anthology. Anthologies? We Love 'Em

    more news...

    Other Appearances

    Mammoth Book of Historical Crime Fiction We have a new story in The Mammoth Book of Historical Crime Fiction edited by Mike Ashley. Featuring a dozen novellas spanning four thousand years of criminal history, contributors include Peter Tremayne, Charles Todd, Steven Saylor, Anne Perry, and Maan Meyers. The ink-stained wretches at Casa Maywrite also lurk within, with Eyes of the Icon, the dark tale of a Byzantine icon painter, suddenly out of work when icons are banned, who becomes embroiled in a case of deception.

    Mary has contributed to Advanced Plotting by Chris Eboch. Advanced Plotting is designed for the intermediate and advanced writer: youíve finished a few manuscripts, read books and articles on writing, taken some classes, attended conferences. But you still struggle with plot, or suspect that your plotting needs work. This book can help.

    more appearances...

    New Reviews

    Ten for Dying

    "The 10th entry in this intriguing, remarkable series ... continues to captivate. It is a combination of interesting history, acute observation, and characters to remember."
    -- John McEvoy, author of the racetrack thriller Photo Finish

    "A jolly jape and a rollicking romp crammed full of storylines...."
    -- Bettie's Books

    "...despite their high quality, and winning quite a few awards, these books are I think woefully under-read....The mysteries are extremely twisty and complicated..." --Denise Rayman

    "...big fun, with serious issues a few levels down in the stratigraphyówhere they can hold a readerís interest without turning the reading experience into a more demanding philosophical wrestling match."
    --Sarah-Hope, Goodreads

    "Though series fans are used to the shrewd John the Eunuch running the show, Ten For Dying is an exciting entry made fresh by Felix and Anastasia....Readers will enjoy this apparent new path...."
    --Harriet Klausner

    One for Sorrow (HoZ edition)

    "A thought provoking historical crime story that will keep you reading - and enjoying."
    --Our Book Reviews Online
    Read the whole review of One for Sorrow.

    Nine for the Devil

    "In Reed and Mayerís superior ninth mystery set in sixth-century Constantinople...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, 1/9/2012
    Read the whole review

    "The authors once again make the Byzantine Empire vibrant and nuanced."
    --Library Journal, 3/1/2012

    "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."
    óRobin Burcell, award-winning author of The Bone Chamber

    "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

    "The unusual premise instills the narrative with a disturbing tension...Nine for the Devil is a good example of how to set a mystery within a real-life scenario...a denouement that's both satisfying and historically plausible."
    --Sarah Johnson
    Read the whole review at Reading the Past.

    "Words cannot describe the creeping fear which seeps through... this excellent story, drawing the reader into the stranglehold of life in the 6th Century of the Byzantine Empire."
    --Diana Hockley
    Read the whole review at Kings River Life.

    "The first John the Lord Chamberlain mystery I have read and I am now truly a fan! Can't wait to see John again. This husband and wife team of authors took me back in time accurately and in an intoxicating manner."
    --Anne Tarski at NetGalley, 2/22/2012

    "This book was AWESOME!! ... There was phenomenal character development and the book oozed that it was intelligently written. This is def. a series I will go back and start from the first book and stalk for continued new releases!!!"
    --Noami Blackburn at

    Eight For Eternity

    "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, 2/8/2010
    Read the whole review.

    "An absolute page-turner, and one that is easily read without having started with other books in the series."
    --Amy Sikes at more reviews of Eight For Eternity...

    Seven For A Secret

    "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, 2/2/2008
    Read the whole review.

    More reviews of all the books


    Glyph Awards Five For Silver has won a Glyph Award from the Arizona Book Publishing Association for Best Book Series. The 2005 ABPA awards are for books published during the previous two years.

    FIVE FOR SILVER was nominated for the 2005 Bruce Alexander History Mystery Award .

    more awards...

    Ten for Dying

    Ten for Dying cover On a hot summer night in 6th century Constantinople at the Church of the Holy Apostles, an Egyptian magician tries to raise Empress Theodora from the dead and demons vanish into the darkness with one of the cityís holiest relics, a fragment of the shroud of the Virgin. As if Felix, Captain of the Palace Guard, didnít have enough problems already between his gambling debts, political maneuverings, and an ambitious new mistress, Emperor Justinian orders him to find the missing relic.

    But before he can begin investigating the theft, he becomes suspected of murder thanks to an anonymous corpse left at his house.

    A former madam turned leader of a religious refuge, a wealthy and famous charioteer, a generalís scheming wife, and a superstitious man who wears so many protective charms that he jingles when he walks, all play their parts in misdirection and murder. It seems as if half the city has reason to wish to possess the relic, see Felix dead, or both.

    If only Felixís friend John were still in the city and could assist him. Unfortunately, the former Lord Chamberlain is being sent into exile, sailing away the morning after the theft. It isnít easy solving a mystery in Constantinople while aboard a ship on its way to Greece.

    Felix is left to fight for survival in a situation where he canít be sure who his enemies are, or even whether they are all human.

    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 and Ten For Dying in March 2014 from Poisoned Pen Press. Head of Zeus is publishing the series in the UK and Europe.

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