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

    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
    Our bi-monthly newsletter

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  • Archives (2000-2015)
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    Maywrite Library

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

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

    Mary's Reviews of
    Golden Age Mysteries

    About Us

    Bibliography including Short Fiction

    Online Interviews Etc.

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

    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.

    In Constantinople the temperature is:

    Click for Constantinople Forecast

    Click for forecast

  • Murder in Megara 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 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.

    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 October issue of The Orphan Scrivener
  • The Fete of the Cake
    by Mary (traditional British fetes)
  • Humming While You Work
    by Eric (an ancient fridge)

    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.

    In her September Poisoned Pen Press blog Mary talks about famous people's advice on writing.
    Coquetting With Starvation.

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

    more news...

    Murder in Megara

    Murder in Megara cover

    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.

    Mary has contributed to Advanced Plotting by Chris Eboch. Advanced Plotting is designed for the intermediate and advanced writer: you’ve 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...


    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.

    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 stratigraphy—where they can hold a reader’s interest without turning the reading experience into a more demanding philosophical wrestling match."
    --Sarah-Hope, Goodreads

    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.


    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 .

    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. Murder in Megara will be published in October, 2015. Head of Zeus is publishing the series in the UK and Europe.

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