Cover Image: Murder by Numbers

Murder by Numbers

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Member Reviews

Murder by Numbers is the 7th book in Eric Brown’s Langham and Dupre series but the first one I’ve read. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I was unfamiliar with the series, but I loved it! The plot description sounds like a mixture of A Murder is Announced and And Then There Were None but this story goes beyond those plots and provides several suspenseful twists and turns. Several times throughout the book, I thought I knew exactly who the killer was only to have a new plot twist dash my theory. There is a murderer on the loose and Maria is one of the people to be in the targets of a killer, making the stakes even higher to find the murderer before he or she strikes again. 

There is a historical element to the story. The book takes place in London in 1956 and the Suez Oil crisis plays an important role in the story. I did some Internet research to get a better understanding of this event since I wasn’t very familiar with this event and the effect it had in Europe. The author uses this historical background very effectively at a crucial point in the story. 

The four main characters of the book, Crime Writer and part-time PI Donald Langham, his wife Maria Dupre, a literary agent, Donald’s friend and business partner Ralph, and the PI agency’s assistant Pamela are all delightful. I love Donald and Maria’s relationship and the strong love they have for each other. It takes a little longer in the book to get to know Ralph and Pamela, but by the end of the book, Pamela proves her intelligence and her bravery and I came to enjoy Ralph’s down-to-earth, practical nature. Some of the police officers who are assisting with the case come across as inept, but that is a minor quibble in an otherwise exciting and well-written book that I would rate 4.5 stars. I look forward to reading other books in this series. 

I received this ebook from NetGalley through the courtesy of Severn House. An advance copy was provided to me at no cost, but my review is voluntary and unbiased.
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If you’re in the mood for a charming, old-fashioned cozy mystery, then be sure to check out this book. It has everything you want for a mid-winter mystery: oodles of atmosphere, a puzzling mystery, and winning characters. Just add a roaring fire, hot cocoa, and your favorite cozy blanket.

It's a traditional cozy mystery that’s smart, witty, and well-written. If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie-style mysteries, where all the pieces of the puzzle are readily available for armchair sleuths, then Eric Brown has you covered.

There’s more than one nod to Christie in the novel. If you read the blurb and thought, hey, didn’t this happen in–? Yes, it did. But Brown takes this in a different, unexpected direction that’s all his own. And if you take a look at the list of guests (and future victims), then they seem like a Christie-ish cast: a beautiful up-and-coming actress, a literary agent, a domineering art critic and her wimpy husband, a doctor with a drinking problem, and a failed poet. Plus there’s the host who might or might be dying and who might or might not be planning suicide. But Brown takes these characters and gives them a life of their own. (Well, until they’re killed off . . .)

The mystery is a real puzzle. Even though I read the last chapter first, I still couldn’t guess how everything all fit together. I appreciated that while the book doesn’t shy away from the horror of a violent death, it doesn’t dwell upon it, either. It’s more focused on solving the mystery than on the nastiness of the death. That’s a refreshing change.

Yet unlike some cozy mystery novels, it also doesn’t become too light-hearted and dismiss the gravity of death. Donald and his partner Ralph banter but they’re never callous and jaded. That’s also a refreshing change in this genre.

Even though this is the first book in the series that I’ve read, I was able to understand the relationships almost immediately. I enjoyed reading about Donald and Maria’s marriage. Even with her worries over a particular issue, there’s a sense of assurance that the couple will survive and be stronger than ever. In a genre filled with troubled relationships, their love and trust shines in contrast. I also enjoyed reading about Maria’s friendship with Donald and Ralph’s secretary, Pamela. It’s also refreshing to see supportive female relationships.

It’s reassuring somehow. Everything in the real world can go wrong; I’ve had a personally tumultuous year, and I know many others have as well. But in the world of the Ryland and Langham Detective Agency, the case will be solved, the marriage will thrive, friends will remain friends, and all will be well.

The writing is crisp and assured, and the pace moves quickly. I read the book in a few hours. It’s perfect for whiling the afternoon away, sipping on hot cocoa and curled up with your kindle.

I recommend this for armchair sleuths and cozy mystery fans, as well as readers who like quirky, atmospheric British novels. A solid 4.5 stars, rounded up to five. 

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Note #2: This will appear on my blog on February 8, 2021.
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1956. Maria Dupre has been invited, among others, to attend the death of dying Maxwell Falwell Fenton at 6.00 pm on the 3rd December at his home, Winterfield, in Lower Malton. On time he shoots himself in front of the witnesses after stating that they will all get their just punishment. The next day the first death occurs but by whom. Inspector Mallory investigates with the help of Langham and Ryland.
A well-written and entertaining mystery with a cast of likeable characters. Another good addition to the series which can be read as a standalone story.
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I am always wary of reading a novel by a prolific author. Eric Brown is prolific but thankfully he doesn't sacrifice quality for quantity. To my shame this is the first book of his I have ever read. It won't be the last. He is a fine writer.
Set at the time of the Suez Crisis, in 1950s London, the plot and setting blend together so perfectly that it reads like a crime classic from that era.
Donald Langham, Maria Dupre and Ralph Ryland are splendid characters. There's plenty of suspense and a couple of very clever twists. Fans of Agatha Christie should love this book. I did.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for an e-galley of this novel.

This is book number seven in this series by Eric Brown and a first book by this author for me. I enjoyed it quite a bit, more so once I went back and read the blurb that gives the setting date as 1956. I kept being distracted by trying to figure out the date just by clues within the novel. The book contains lots of plot elements that kept me thinking I was going to be reading something resembling books written by other authors but Brown managed to shake up my thinking each time by inserting a twist right out of left field. This story unfolded in a way that made it seem as if the investigation could have actually happened in just this way within the time setting.

My introduction to this cast of characters was a success; watching them work the problem from beginning to resolution was enjoyable. A little bit of an old fashioned crime novel feeling comes from the lack of profanity and each recurring character comes across as a genuinely nice person. They are working on a serious crime but there isn't a grim or gritty atmosphere. Quite enjoyable because most of the book was focused on solving the crime. The less family drama in a crime or thriller novel the better I like it.
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This is the seventh in the mystery series featuring crime writer, and private detective, Donald Langham and his literary agent wife, Maria Dupre.  The series is set in 1950’s London, although Donald and Maria have been thinking of moving to the country.  However, before they can make their arrangements to leave for a country cottage, Maria receives a card inviting her to witness a death….

This intriguing card comes from reclusive artist, Maxwell Falwell Fenton, who Maria knew as a young girl.    The opening reminded me slightly of, “A Murder is Announced,” as a group of people are invited to Fenton’s country house, Winterfield, and, of course, before long, there is indeed a death.   However, Fenton has accused of all those invited of injuring him in some way and, when the guests begin to die, it is up to Donald to solve the murder and protect Maria from harm.

I enjoy this series very much.  I like the characters, the period feel and the plot was interesting, with a good number of suspects.   I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.
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Interesting entry into historical mystery genre with a very well plotted mystery and characters that I enjoyed.  The characters were very well written and enjoyable.  The mid-fifties setting was also fun.
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This is the first book I’ve had the pleasure to read by Eric Brown, and it didn’t matter I started with no7 of the series  as it read perfectly well as a stand alone. Langham, Ryder and Pamela work at their detective agency and Langham is also an author. His wife Maria has been invited to the estate of the once renowned artist, Maxwell Fenton. Having only very  bad memories about the man Maria still insists she wants to go, so her husband Langham accompanies her. Once they arrive they find 5 other guests waiting for the host as well. They’re shown into a room where their host proceeds to let the guests know how they’ve ruined his life and have become enemies of him and promises they will face ruin and hell.
I really liked this mystery . It felt old school, in a good way, like Chandler. A great twist at the end will leave every reader satisfied. My only complaint is I find the cover very drab and boring. I wouldn’t pick it up in a library or bookstore to take a second look, and I was surprised to see all the covers in this series the same way.
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Here is the latest adventure for Donald Langham and Maria Dupre in this gentle mystery series set in England in the 1950's. But maybe not so gentle as an artist of middling repute pre war as a painter but with a lascivious reputation as a seducer summons six people to his mansion to announce his revenge on those who have wronged him - and Maria is one of the six.  Then the murders start, one by one, in order of their seating at the mansion reception.

Little previous knowledge of the series is needed to enjoy this instalment which is, as usual, complete in itself.  Some readers might puzzled why cars run out of gas at critical moments in the chase, but this is set in late 1956 at the time of the Suez crisis when petrol rationing was reintroduced in Britain.  Enjoyable and easy to read.
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As a devoted fan of Langham and Dupré Mystery Series I am very happy that Murder by Numbers will be a next  gem in this collection. It's a classic, elegant mystery novel in style of R. Chandler and with wit of A. Christie's plots.
We meet again a crime novel writer/private investigator Donald Langham,  his charming wife Maria, and Langham's partner Ralph Ryland.
Maria has been invited by her old friend Maxwell Falwell Fenton, once very well known artist but recently suffering for faded fame,  to a macabre party to witness death. 
When arrived, all invited persons,  are accused by the host of being guilty of hurting him somehow and are sentenced to be punished. Six guests, six numbered invitations, six targets of the revenge. Maria's invitation has number 6. Will Donald be able to save his wife by solving that case?
It was a delightful read, very atmospheric, with great characters; a real joy for mystery lovers.

Thank you to NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for an e-Galley of this novel.
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A Disturbing Turn....
The seventh in the Langham and Dupre mystery series and another first class outing for the duo. An invitation to a death prompts our sleuthing pair to attend a soirée at the home of Maxwell, a former renowned artist, Unbeknown to them others have received the same invitation - each with a numbered invite and each seemingly with a reason to dislike the host. The evening soon takes a very disturbing turn. With endearing protagonists and a colourful cast of supporting characters, this is a thoroughly entertaining read and a very worthy addition to this excellent series.
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The 7th in the Langham and Dupre series.  Set in 1950’s London and Essex, the novel has an authentic feel.  Ralph Ryland and Donald Langham are partners in a PI firm.  Donald  also writes crime novels.  Wife Maria works for Donald’s literary agent.
Maria and several others are invited to a macabre event.  Each invitation arrives numbered. At the event each guest is seated according to their number. After the event, the guests are killed in the order of the numbered invitations.  Four are killed in quick succession, Maria has number 6.  
Donald, Ralph, and the London police pit their knowledge against a diabolical killer. A very enjoyable read.
Highly recommend.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for an advance copy.
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208 pages

4 and 1 / 2 stars

Maxwell Fenton, a once famous artist, invites six people to his home, one of them being Maria Dupré, Donald Langham's wife. (Insert the cliché, “It was a dark and stormy night...”) As they gather at the front door, the persons speculate as to why they received the invitation. They had heard a rumor that he was terminally ill and the idea of Fenton's suicide pops into the conversation. They are a widely varied group of people. Each person has reason to either fear or hate Fenton. 

In total, there were nine people at the event. In addition to the invited seven (the original six plus Langham), there was Fenton and a butler named “Smith.” An event occurs that shocks everyone present. Later, when people start dying, Donald recommends that his wife and the others still alive secret themselves away for their safety. 

While Donald and his partner Ralph Ryland begin interviewing the survivors, more deaths occur. Jeff Mallory, the police detective is flummoxed, for he had someone guarding one home, to no avail. This is a truly cunning and clever killer. 

There are surprises aplenty in this book. The story moves in one direction, oh, wait, no it doesn't. It was very pleasing to read. The characters are wonderful. Langham and Ralph make fine partners. I like Ralph's panache in tricking his way into someone's house. He is more daring than Langham. And Maria and Langham make such a nice couple. I was pleased to learn more about Maria's past in this installment of the series. A very fine book. Keep up the good work, Mr. Brown! 

I want to thank NetGalley and Seven House for forwarding to me a copy of this excellent mystery for me to read, enjoy and review. 

**This book is not yet available on GoodReads or BookBub to review.
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