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  • 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
  • Ten for Dying
  • Murder in Megara
  • An Empire for Ravens
  • The Guardian Stones
  • Ruined Stones


    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

    Bibliography including Short Fiction

    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.

    In Constantinople the temperature is:

    Click for Constantinople Forecast

    Click for forecast

  • An Empire For Ravens cover Ruined Stones cover
    Click on cover for more iformation.

    Praise for An Empire For Ravens

    Publishers Weekly Starred Review
    "The cleverness of the plot and the solution to the murder are among the series's best." --Publishers Weekly

    "The 12th franchise entry places the reader in the middle of the turmoil of sixth-century Rome and into a tense historical mystery." --Kirkus Reviews

    "...builds to a crescendo of violence, betrayal, and tragedy.... John is an interesting and sympathetic character, enigmatic but immensely likable." --Diana Hockley. King's River Life

    From the August issue of The Orphan Scrivener

  • No Ringie-Dingies For Us
    by Mary (phone problems)
  • Meteor Right, Murder Wrong
    by Eric (cozy mystery)


    Mary writes about Adventures in Ancient Roman Cuisine at Killer Crafts and Crafty Killers, the blog hosted by Lois Winston, author of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting mysteries.

    We had the honour of Kings River Life's Lorie Ham choosing an extract from our WW2 mystery Ruined Stones for her podcast series. Paddy Myers, the actor who recorded ours, did an absolutely bang-up job and it sounded wonderful!

    Mary's essay, Talking Snakes and Other Mysteries, appears in the summer issue of Mystery Reader's Journal. She talks about the roles played by animals in our Byzantine mysteries. The issue can be ordered online. Historical Mysteries II.

    At our blog, Jane Finnis, author of the Aurelia Marcella historical mystery series, writes about why she loves short mystery stories.

    Mary reviews A Pinch of Pure Cunning, a collection of short stories by Jane Finnis, author of the popular Aurelia Marcella historical mystery series. See our blog.

    At Anastasia Pollack's Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers Mary talks about where writers find plot ideas. Read The Eyes Have It.

    Check out the new additions to Mary's Golden Age Mysteries and Supernatural Stories.

    Mary's essay The Grim Reaper's Lawnmower, has appeared in Seeds, a free weekly electronic newsletter for Texas gardeners. Subscribe at Seeds.

    At PJ Nunn's bookbrowsing, Mary offers some tips and Interet resources for Naming Your Characters.

    At Lois Winston's blog, KIller Carafts and Crafty KIllers, Mary discusses researching Five for Silver, a John the Lord Chamberlain novel set during the Justinian Pandemic. See: A Circumstance Such as has Never Before Been Recorded

    Mary has posted a review of a GAD short story collection on our blog. Mr Treadgold Cuts In by Valentine Williams was published in 1937. Mr Treadgold is an elderly tailor and amateur 'tec.

    At bookreporter -- Author Talk Mary explains how we connected with the Press, the amount of research that goes into recreating the world of Byzantium in the sixth century, and the inner workings of our collaboration process.

    At Mary ponders what makes a book cover stand out? See Mary Reed Does a Survey on Book Covers.

    Mary and Eric are interviewed at Crimespree Magazine. Read Five Things - An Empire For Ravens By Mary Reed And Eric Mayer

    At Suzanne Adair's blog, Mary examines the life of John's antagonist Empress Theodora. Read Empress Theodora: Saint, Sinner or Both?

    Anastasia Pollack has an Interview with John, Lord Chamberlain at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers.

    At Writers Who Kill, Mary finds story ideas on Craigslist. Read Advertisement: Writer Seeks Ideas

    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.

    more news...

    An Empire For Ravens

    An Empire for Ravens cover

    Missing treasure, murder, possible treason...

    Emperor Justinian's former Lord Chamberlain, John, gets a letter from his longtime comrade, Felix, and, placing loyalty to a friend above his own safety, risks defying imperial edict by leaving his exile in Greece for Rome where Felix is in some kind of trouble.

    For years a Captain of the Excubitors at the court in Constantinople, Felix has achieved his ambition to become a General when Justinian sends him to serve under General Diogenes in fighting for Rome against the besieging Goths.

    John's covert entrance into Rome is ambushed, driving him deep into ancient catacombs before he exits into the heart of the city. Arrested and brought before Diogenes, John learns that Felix is missing. It has been two days since he went to call upon Archdeacon Leon, a troublesome man at the heart of Felix's dispatch to the city.

    When sent to lodge at Felix's quarters, John finds the household in disarray, evidence that Felix has taken a questionable lover and run up his usual debts, and someone is rifling supplies. Then a young woman servant, also missing, is found dead. John has many mysteries to solve before Diogenes' courier to Justinian can return and prompt John's immediate execution.

    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

    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...


    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

    "I enjoyed this mystery, with its convincing characters... It provides an interesting look at life during the war, complete with black marketeers and criminals taking advantage of the blackout, and the prejudice and fear shown to foreigners and strangers." -- BooksPlease

    " 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

    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. An Empire For Ravens appeared in October, 2018. 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, appeared 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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    Website contents Copyright © 2019 Eric Mayer and Mary Reed