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Nine for the Devil Hardcover – Mar 6 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press; 1 edition (March 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590589947
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590589946
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,725,643 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"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."—Publishers Weekly starred review of Nine for the Devil

"Whores, beggars, lawyers, even a tax collector and a pope wander around Constantinople’s back alleys, brothels, kitchens and church sanctum sanctorums. What a relief for John (Eight for Eternity, 2010, etc.) to be finally freed of his duties and prepare to take his household off to Greece." —Kirkus Reviews of Nine for the Devil

"More complex and colorful than any Byzantine mosaic, Nine for the Devil by Mary Reed and Eric Mayer, 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

"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

"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" —Publishers Weekly starred review of Eight for Eternity



About the Author

After 1999's highly acclaimed first full length novel, One for Sorrow, the husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer extended the series with Two For Joy, Three For A Letter, Four For A Boy, and Five for Silver. In June 2003 Booklist Magazine named the John the Eunuch novels one of its four Best Little Known Series.

The husband and wife team of Mary Reed and Eric Mayer had published several short John the Eunuch detections in mystery anthologies and in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine prior to 1999's highly acclaimed first full length novel, One for Sorrow.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa14e6b40) out of 5 stars 11 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa13dcd44) out of 5 stars Excellent and Enjoyable March 30 2012
By Rhubarb - Published on
Format: Paperback
Mary and Eric are a great writing team, and their series (starting with "One for a Boy") is a fine example of historical fiction done right. They have mastered the very difficult art of making each character's voice distinct, without resorting to pseudo accents or artificial cant. And obviously they have done their homework, making the historical setting accurate, while writing prose at times transcendently beautiful.

My only criticism is that occasionally the sentence structure made me stop and say, "Huh? What was that?", thus pulling me out of the narrative to parse out the meaning of the sentence.

Example: "But Cosmas and Damian did seem inclined to aid a Mithran Lord Chamberlain." I expected there to be "not" in the sentence. Chapter Sixty-one.

Another example: " would also be difficult not to be able to sleep at your post for fear the emperor might suddenly appear and catch you at it." Awkward. Chapter Sixty-one.

And there were a few, just a few, typos and misplaced commas. Nothing serious.

All in all, a book well worth reading--and while you're at it, read the whole series. You will enjoy them all.
HASH(0xa106dd44) out of 5 stars Intrigue in the 6th century... June 10 2013
By S. D. Beallis - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Historical fiction/mystery set in the 6th century in Emperor Justinian's Constantinople. Empress Theodora has just died, and John, Justinian's Lord Chamberlain, is tasked with finding out who murdered her. The catch is, neither he nor anyone else except Justinian believes she was murdered. She appears to have died of natural causes. But no one else's opinion matters when it comes to the Emperor.

The husband/wife writing team of Eric Mayer and Mary Reed take great pains to get most of their historical facts correct in this well constructed mystery with great characters and vivid settings. You think you don't like historical mysteries like this? Think again; that's what I thought too, but I'm nine books into the series and I have thoroughly enjoyed every last one of these offerings. I truly feel like I can "see" the city and the residences and the splendor of the Imperial residence and the churches juxtaposed with sometimes seedier and more squalid settings around the city. I believe in these characters, both those taken from history like the Emperor and his "other" Lord Chamberlain (Narses) and generals like Germanus and Belisarius and all the others, and the fictional characters like the Captain of the Excubitors Felix, the physician Gaius, the lawyer Anatolius and of course John, the eunuch who was captured, castrated and enslaved by the Persians as a young man and who has risen through the palace ranks to become Lord Chamberlain.

I'm not sure, but this feels like it might be the end of this series. Is it? I hope not. But if you haven't read any of these, and you like mysteries, you have a treat waiting for you. Don't let the historical aspect, or the fact that they are set in the 6th century, hold you back.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0f80ab0) out of 5 stars A good book like others in the series June 3 2012
By S. Rice - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read all the books in this series. I have learned a lot about the history of Constantinople and the end of the Roman Empire. These books combine history and great entertainment. I highly recommend all of them.
HASH(0xa1254f3c) out of 5 stars Enjoyable, but ultimately sad. Sept. 23 2013
By Raquae - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The current novel was an enjoyable read, as were all the other novels in this series; some more than others. This novel was one of the best. There are many fewer novels of any genre set in the late Roman Empire than in Rome's glory days. The authors have made good use of the Justinian period for a set of mystery novels which contain an introduction to this late antiquity period. As with the previous novels, in this ninth novel there were a number of typos which annoy the reader and the occasional sentence with a structure so awkward that it startled me.

I am not thoroughly schooled in the murder mystery genre. I know there usually is a clue that informs the reader – if they are alert - of the “bad guy”. In the John the Lord Chamberlain series these clues are often too obscure for me to realize while reading the novel. That was true in this novel as well. I have enjoyed reading these novels too much to worry about picking up that clue.
The sad part of this ninth novel is that the authors may be discarding John as their detective. This would be sad for me. Then again, in the early part of the novel John mentions that there may be as many as ten or eleven verses to the rhyme the authors use for their title. So maybe it is a false alarm, my concern is unwarranted and I’ll enjoy John mysteries for some time in the future.

I recommend this novel to anyone interested in historical fiction, especially historical mysteries. If the reader is interested in historical mysteries involving the Roman Empire, this novel might be a must read. My 4 rating is as high as I could give any novel I’ve read in quite some time. If I could, I’d give a 4.5.
HASH(0xa1090fcc) out of 5 stars great sixth century Constantinople mystery March 13 2012
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In 548 in Constantinople, capital of the Roman Empire, Empress Theodora has died from a terrible illness. However, her husband Emperor Justinian, twenty years her senior, believes otherwise that someone murdered his spouse by poisoning her.

He directs lord chamberlain John to investigate his wife's death with the warning of finding her killer or he and his family will face the same consequences Justinian plans for Theodora's murderer. John knows that the empress died of natural causes from a debilitating disease as few had access to the Empress. Still though a doubting Thomas, he analyzes who of the many with motives at the castle had both access and major gains with Theodora out of the way. He narrows the list to a few powerful people with deep grudges against the royal couple, but remains skeptical that a homicide occurred as opportunity is limited to Gaius the royal physician and food servicing servants to have delivered poison.

The latest John the Lord Chamberlain sixth century Constantinople mystery (see Eight for Eternity) is a great entry that combines a strong whodunit with a puissant look at the period mostly inside the place but somewhat also through the heroes' friends and family outside too. The palace politics engages the audience as the norm is superstition (for instance the Emperor is a demon), backstabbing and betrayal. John knows the urgency of his mission as time is running out on him and his loved ones with Justinian demanding the head of his wife's killer. With a moral dilemma to hand over someone or else, fans will enjoy John's latest adventures in the palace of Emperor Justinian.

Harriet Klausner