Mosaic of Justinian



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  • One For Sorrow
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  • 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

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

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    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:

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  • The Guardian Stones cover Murder in Megara 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 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

    Praise for 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


    From the February issue of The Orphan Scrivener
  • Should Accumulations of Books be Avoided?
    by Mary (Lessons from M.R. James)
  • Ice-Bound Lucifer
    by Eric (winter fun)

    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

    Mary's Poisoned Pen Press blog for November celebrates the sneezin' season.
    First, Catch Your Cold -- Mrs Beeton's cure for colds

    On Marilyn Meredith's Musings blog, Mary offers some Food For Thought: unexpected food in mysteries -- the miracle of the melons and the glass comestibles

    The October Poisoned Pen Press Blog features an essay by Eric about his grandparents' old fashioned flower beds.

    At the Type M 4 Murder blog Mary describes another way to avoid anachronisms.
    Geese and Graves and Other Writerly Concerns.

    In a conversation with Lance Wright of Omnimystery News we discuss such diverse topics as what we look for when selecting a book to read for pleasure and how we would complete the sentence "I am a mystery author and thus I am also..."

    Mary writes about the role of mosaics in the Lord Chamberlain series for Lois Winston's Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog.

    At Maryann Miller's It's Not All Gravy blog, Mary talks about unexpected meetings.
    Perchance, We Meet.

    The vexed question of how to present the violence inherent in mysteries is Mary's subject at Lance Wright's Omnimystery News.

    more news...

    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.


    Murder in Megara

    John, former Lord Chamberlain to Emperor Justinian, has been exiled from Constantinople to a rustic estate John has long-owned in Greece, not far from where he grew up. But exile proves no escape from mystery and mayhem. The residents of nearby Megara make it plain John and his family are unwelcome intruders. His overseer proves corrupt. What of the other staff—and his neighbors?

    Before long, John finds himself accused of blasphemy and murder. Now a powerless outsider, he’s on his own, investigating and annoyingly hampered by the ruthless and antagonistic City Defender who serves Megara as both law enforcer and judge. Plus there’s that corrupt estate overseer, a shady pig farmer, a servant’s unwelcome suitor, a wealthy merchant who spends part of his time as a cave-dwelling hermit, and the criminals and cutthroats populating such a seedy port as Megara.

    Complicating matters further are two childhood friends whose lives have taken very different paths, plus the stepfather John hated. John realizes that in Megara, the solution to murder does not lie in the dark alleys where previous investigations have taken him, but in a far more dangerous place—his own past. Can he find his way out of the labyrinth of lies and danger into which he has been thrust before disaster strikes and exile turns into execution?


    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

    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.

    more appearances...


    Murder in Megara

    "If you are unfamiliar with this engaging series, where have you been? You are lucky. It is easy to get caught up with the story. The authors' wonderful research and writing skills clue you in with no trouble at all."
    -- Mary Ann Smyth. Read the whole review at Book Loons

    "I enjoyed the trip through history via this well-written mystery. The descriptions were nicely done, and I really got a sense of the place and the the way people lived at that time."
    --Maryann Miller. Read the whole review at It's Not All Gravy.

    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. The Guardian Stones will appear in January 2016. Head of Zeus is publishing the John the Lord Chamberlain series in the UK and Europe.

    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
    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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