Murder by Numbers

The latest novel in the Langham and Dupré series, Murder by Numbers, is due out in the UK in a fortnight. Here’s a very complimentary review by David Pitt writing in the US magazine Booklist.

Murder by Numbers by Eric Brown, Feb. 2021. 208p. Severn House, $28.99, (9780727890771); e-book (9781448304332)

A dying artist invites several people to his stately home. Among them are book editor Maria Dupré and her husband, novelist and PI Donald Langham. The reason for the invitation is a bit foggy, but one thing soon becomes clear: one of the invited guests has a secret worth killing to protect. Can Donald identify the murderer before Maria becomes one of the victims? The Langham and Dupré novels (this is the seventh) feature fine writing and stories that are appropriately mysterious; but what really sells the books are the characters. Not just Donald and Maria, but the whole cast: villains, suspects, bit players, all fully drawn people. Brown, an award-winning sf writer, also has a real knack for historical mystery; his version of Britain in the 1950s, especially the social strata that existed at the time, is vividly re-created and striking in its verisimilitude.

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President-Elect Biden

I raised a glass in celebration of Joe Biden’s victory last night, along no doubt with the seventy-five million Democrats across America who voted for sanity after almost four years of divisive Trump presidency. The bewilderment on this side of the Atlantic is how seventy million Americans could vote for Trump. It will be a relief not to be subjected to his peculiar brand of narcissism and bigotry every time I switch on the news – though I dread to think how Trump might choose to promulgate his hate-filled bile when he leaves office in January.

Well done Mr Biden.

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Free E-book

My novel, The Devil’s Nebula, the first volume in the Weird Space series, is now available as a free e-book from Rebellion…

Ed Carew and his small ragtag crew are smugglers and ne’er-do- wells, thumbing their noses at the Expansion, the vast human hegemony extending across thousands of worlds… until the day they are caught, and offered a choice between working for the Expansion and an ignominious death. They must trespass across the domain of humanity’s neighbours, the Vetch – the inscrutable alien race with whom humanity has warred, at terrible cost of life, and only recently arrived at an uneasy peace – and into uncharted space beyond, among the strange worlds of the Devil’s Nebula, looking for long-lost settlers.

A new evil threatens not only the Expansion itself, but the Vetch as well. In the long run, the survival of both races may depend on their ability to lay aside their differences and co-operate.

Free eBook of the month – September

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Crime Story

My crime story “Gorilla Tactics” appears The Book of Extraordinary Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, which is out now from Mango Books in the US. The tale is a very lighthearted take on the subject.

Here are the opening few paragraphs…

 

FIFTY YEARS AGO my grandfather was killed in very peculiar circumstances.

I only discovered the details from my mother earlier this year. All I knew before then was that my grandfather had died at the age of sixty-five, long before I was born. My mother rarely mentioned her father, other than to say he was a kind, loving man who had worked as a solicitor in the local town, five miles from the village of Humble Barton where he’d lived for most of his life.

“I’ve never told you much about Arthur, have I, Edward?” She indicated the black and white photograph of a tall grey-haired man in tennis flannels, a briar pipe clenched in his smiling mouth.

It was the occasion of my weekly visit. I poured my mother a cup of Earl Grey and one for myself.

“No, you haven’t,” I said. “A solicitor, wasn’t he?”

She nodded absently, sucking on a bourbon biscuit. “He worked for forty years in the firm of Shackleton, Vine, and Brooke, right here in Sherborne. Nice man. Salt of the earth, people said. Anyway,” she went on, “he was murdered.”

I lowered my teacup. “Murdered?”

“By a gorilla.”

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Albedo One

The Irish SF magazine Albedo One 49 is out now and contains my tale “Panspermia High”. Here are the first few paragraphs…

You’ve heard about the theory of Panspermia, right? And no, it’s nothing to do with the ejaculate of an eternally youthful fictional character called Peter.

Panspermia: the idea that microscopic biological life-forms exist out there in the gulfs of space. Well, not an idea. A fact. And I should know. I came to Earth on the back of a meteorite; me, a short-chain molecule in the steroid lactone range, known locally as a bufotoxin. These days members of my family can be found in the parotid glands of certain toads.

*

The rock I was riding came down in Australia ten thousand years ago. The meteorite squashed a colony of cane toads taking it easy in the noonday sun – but not all of them. One little critter moseyed on over to take a look.

And I – call me Bufo – decided that the ugly, ambulatory little fellah would make a perfect host. I needed an organic life-form to cloak me from all the lethal pathogens teeming across the face of planet Earth. I needed a host on which I could lie low and take it easy.

I made the leap, said g’day to toady, and made myself at home.

And it’s been pretty much plain sailing for the last ten millennia.

So what happened to end all that, and why am I recounting my life story in the voice of an Aussie stoner?

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Forthcoming

Cover art by Ben Baldwin, for Iterations

Murder by Numbers, the seventh novel in the Langham and Dupré series, was due out in May but has wisely been pushed back to August – though it’s listed as a November release on Amazon. Later this year the fourth novella in the Kon-Tiki Quartet, Iterations, written with Keith Brooke, will come out form PS Publishing.

A new imprint, Stone Owl Books, based in Edinburgh, will publish my homage to SF and Ace Doubles, the thirty thousand word novella, Ace Doubles. It’s about a curmudgeonly fifty-something SF writer, and strange goings-on in Yorkshire.

On the short story front, the latest edition of the Irish SF magazine, Albedo One, includes my short tale “Panspermia High”. Due out in Lightspeed SF magazine later this year is my collaboration with Keith, “Me Two”. My crime tale “Gorilla Tactics” will appear in 2020 in Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths, an anthology edited by Maxim Jakubowski.

And finally, many thanks to Lee Pfahler for alerting me to something called ‘Search for Sol’; though it’s listed on Amazon under my name, I didn’t write it.

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Stories of Hope

Out now is Stories of Hope, edited by Ian Whates, from NewCon Press – the proceeds from which will be donated to the NHS and healthcare workers. The anthology contains stories by Stephen Baxter, Peter Hamilton, Christopher Priest and many more. Also included is my “The Kings of Eternity”, from which grew my novel of the same title. To buy it, click here

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Sherlock Holmes and the Martian Menace

Just out from Titan Books is my latest novel: The Martian Menace, a Sherlock Holmes tale set in H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds milieu.

For the second time in human history, Martian invaders occupy planet Earth. After a common terrestrial virus thwarted the first deadly invasion, another Martian armada arrived six years later to make peace. Now, mankind enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the aliens’ scientific wonders and technology, and an entente exists between the two races. But when Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are called upon to investigate the death of an eminent Martian philosopher, they unravel an intricate web of betrayal and murder that leaves no one – human or Martian – beyond suspicion…

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Murder by Numbers

Here’s the cover and blurb for the seventh Langham and Dupré novel, due out from Severn House in May.

December, 1956. Donald Langham’s wife Maria receives a chilling invitation to attend a death at the country house of Maxwell Falwell Fenton in Essex. The once-prominent artist has a number of enemies, and has faded into obscurity since the war. Is the invitation to his own death or someone else’s?

Arriving at Winterfield on a cold winter evening, Donald and Maria meet five strangers who have also received numbered invitations. Everyone present has a reason to hate or fear Maxwell – including Maria, who reveals a secret from her own past. But is she telling the whole truth?

The soiree produces a gruesome and dramatic twist, but it’s about to get much worse when someone starts picking off the six, one by one. Can Donald untangle lies, betrayal, and incredible revelations to identify the killer before Maria becomes the next victim?

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NewCon Press book sale

My good friend and indefatigable colleague Ian Whates is offering great reductions on some of his NewCon Press titles at the moment, including a couple of my titles.

More details here:

http://www.newconpress.co.uk/info/books.asp?offers=yes

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