cover image Murder by Numbers: A Langham and Dupré Mystery

Murder by Numbers: A Langham and Dupré Mystery

Eric Brown. Severn, $28.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9077-1

Brown’s solid seventh mystery featuring private detective and thriller writer Donald Langham and his wife, literary agent Marie Dupré (after 2019’s Murder Served Cold), opens on December 3, 1956, when Maria receives an invitation, marked with the number 6, to “attend a death” that evening. The sender is artist Maxwell Fenton, whom Maria struck and scarred with a fireplace poker after he made aggressive sexual advances decades before. At the artist’s Essex home, a gaunt and barely recognizable Fenton details his grievances against each of the six guests and then shoots himself. Witnessing his suicide seems to be Fenton’s revenge, until three of the guests he assembled are murdered in the order indicated by the numbers on their invitations to Fenton’s death. Maria is clearly in danger, but who’s committing crimes motivated by a dead man’s grudges? Langham investigates an actor friend of Fenton’s who disappeared around the time of the shooting. Though copious backstory slows the early chapters, clever plot twists soon spin the dramatic premise into a gripping tale. Agatha Christie fans will have fun. [em]Agent: John Jarrold, John Jarrold Literary (U.K.). (Feb.) [/em]