A magician turned detective is caught up in the most baffling locked-room murder mystery…
‘One of the all-time greatest impossible murder mysteries’ Publishers Weekly starred review
‘Dazzling’ Saturday Review
‘A cornerstone of detective fiction’ New York Times
Master magician The Great Merlini has hung up his top hat and white gloves, and now spends his days running a magic shop in New York and his nights moonlighting as a consultant for the NYPD. When the crimes seem impossible, it is his magician’s mind they need.
So when two occultists are discovered dead in locked rooms, one spread out on a pentagram, both appearing to have been murdered under similar circumstances, Merlini is immediately called in. The list of suspects includes an escape artist, a professional medium, and a ventriloquist – and it is only too clear that this is a world Merlini knows rather too well…
Greg Egan is arguably Australia’s greatest living science fiction writer. In a career spanning more than thirty years, he has produced a steady stream of novels and stories that address a wide range of scientific and philosophical concerns: artificial intelligence, higher mathematics, science vs religion, the nature of consciousness, and the impact of technology on the human personality. All these ideas and more find their way into this generous and illuminating collection, the clear product of a man who is both a master storyteller and a rigorous, exploratory thinker.
The Best of Greg Egan contains twenty stories and novellas arranged in chronological order, and each of them is a brilliantly conceived, painstakingly developed gem, including the Hugo Award-winning novella “Oceanic”, a powerful account of a boy whose deeply held religious beliefs are undermined by what he comes to learn about the laws of the physical world.
This book really does represent the best of Greg Egan, and it therefore takes its place among the best of contemporary SF. Startling, intelligent and always hugely entertaining, it provides an ideal introduction to one of the most accomplished and original writers working today. This is an important and provocative collection, and it deserves a place on the serious science fiction reader’s permanent shelf.
While in Rome, art student Chuck Musgrave is offered a job painting pictures of Positano, a picturesque town south of Naples. When Chuck arrives in Positano, strange things begin to happen. It becomes clear that not all foreigners living in Positano are there for the scenery!
Once there was only the land of Phesaotois, with a cold and baleful Stone at its magical heart. Much later came the land of Pheyarcet, younger and hotter, with its Well of Fire inextricably bound up with its ruler, the great Panurgus.
Then Panurgus died, touching off a bitter struggle between his sons that ended with Avril on the throne and Prospero, mightiest of the sorcerers, in permanent exile.
All that was an age ago. Now Prospero, grown ancient and subtle, has found a new, third land: bright Argylle, with its primal Spring of clear water. Argylle is a fair realm in its own right; but the children of Panurgus never forgive and never forget.
And so Prospero decides it is an auspicious time to seize the throne of Phesaotois from Avril – thereby setting in motion a vast tale of romance and espionage, of talking animals and mythic beasts, of metaphysics and primal creation, of mannerly drama and gritty military detail: an epic that can only end in a conflagration of blood and honor.
Tabaea was an ordinary thief, sneaking and prowling and stealing for a living. Then one night while burgling a house, she witnessed a wizard teaching his apprentice a spell – the creation of a magic dagger.
Tabaea decided to try the magic for herself. But even though she could feel the power rising around her as she went through the steps of the ritual, something had clearly gone wrong. The apprentice’s dagger had glowed; it had resisted attempts to pick it up; and there had been a blinding flash at the end of the ceremony.
But Tabaea’s dagger didn’t do any of those things. And it wouldn’t free her from bonds, or heal her wounds – it didn’t seem to be magical at all. It just turned black.
Then, by chance, Tabaea discovered that her dagger indeed had its own kind of unusal magic – a dark, powerful magic that promised invincibility to its bearer.
But magic can be dangerous even in the hands of an expert – and for Tabaea, magic and power could spell disaster . . .
When Commander Herries of the Space Line began to sell the water of Mars as a ‘potion’ for lengthening life he had no idea that he was going to create the world’s greatest thirst and produce havoc among the two social grades of Earth – the Inelligentsia and the Normals. But produce it he did.
Among the confusion thus produced one man thinks clearly for his own ends – Vance Unthra, the leading scientist of the world – and he sees in the crisis which has hit Earth a way to be rid of all those who do not measure up to what he thinks as an intellectual standard. By his orders two synthetic worlds are created – Alpha and Omega – and to these are ruthlessly evacuated all the victims of the Martian water, there to rebuild there shattered fortunes and never cross the ‘Dark Boundaries’ which exist between those worlds and Earth.
Despite his careful planning, however, Unthra makes one mistake. In destroying the power of the Martian water over the evacuated thousands he miscalculates the strength of cosmic radiation on Omega with the result that the leader – the Controllix – of this world, Sylvia Grantham, becomes a far greater power in the grand scheme of things than her former lover, Dexter Carfax. Through the machinations of the wily Unthra open hostility breaks out between Dexter Carfax and the girl, and eventually their worlds are destroyed through the influence of a deadly chain reaction ‘disease’ from the Great Red Spot of Jupoter.
Both of them, however, through the various experiences they undergo, hold to one objective – to be avenged on Vance Unthra for his viciousness.
Returning to the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge after a spell at the nuclear research labs of CERN in Geneva, Professor Isaac Newton is plunged into the centre of a baffling mystery. One of his research students, Mike Howarth, has picked up strange signals on his satellite telemetry equipment, signals that appear to emanate from a passing comet. Not long after he has passed the vital data into Isaac Newton’s hands, Howarth is found dead. Soon after that, it becomes clear that some people in very high places – including the Kremlin and the White House – are more than a little interested in the remarkable events taking place at the Cavendish. But with the arrival of that most majestic of all celestial bodies, Comet Halley, a third and infinitely more powerful superpower enters the scene. And the Comet’s extraordinary intentions – not to mention its devastating methods of communicating them to Earth – promise a new dawn for humanity.
I saw her, hanging in the sky like a flake of the moon. A woman, her face masked by a black shireen, her body by a black shift, but her white arms spread, and her white, white, bone-white hair blowing all around her like a flame composed of smoke. Recognition was immediate. It was my mother. I shouted at her. It was crystal clear to me, what he had meant for me, my father, Vazkor, what she had robbed me of. And I drew from my belt my hunting knife and threw it at her heart.
‘My favourite American crime-writer’ New York Herald Tribune
In the quiet suburb of Santa Monica, eighty-eight-year-old Mabel Foster loses her husband to a stroke. Rather than move Mabel into a retirement home, the neighbours hire Josephine Slaney to take care of her. The immense nurse is a godsend, the cost of her help is a bargain.
Soon it becomes clear, however, that all is not right with Josephine. Mrs Foster, once bright and alert, falls quickly into a torpor and retreats into seclusion at Josephine’s command. It is up to detective Dan Valentine to uncover a strange, lethal pattern among Josephine’s former patients, and the race is on to stop her before she can strike again.
Four people’s lives intertwine and collide in this early novel from one of the SF greats
San Francisco in the 1950s, a turning point in American culture: the rise of rock and roll and the teenage lifestyle. Jim Briskin is a disc jockey on radio KOIF. He’s still in love with his ex-wife, Pat – even though she’s about to marry someone else at the station – and she’s vacillating between them. But when he takes her to visit the desperate household of two of his teenage fans, she seduces the boy into abandoning his pregnant wife – who then claims Jim as her protector and support.
And all around them the cultural upheaval of postwar American society is manifest, by teenage outcasts who have a remote-controlled Nazi automobile they use to bump into the rich kids’ cars; by Thisbe Holt, the dancer who performs for conventioneers by stuffing herself inside a clear plastic bubble; by blaring used-car ads and the conflict between generations.
Dick gives us a vision of redemption tempered with layered ironies and a lot of real humour.
‘A Luis Mendoza story means superlative suspense’ Los Angeles Times
Lieutenant Mendoza seems to be beset on all sides: at home, his wife Alison is convinced she is having twins; at the office his worry is a man called Francis Ingram, prime suspect for a murder Mendoza does not think he has committed.
Yet the fact remains that someone has murdered Mendoza’s wife, Arabella, and the evidence points straight at him. But as the case progresses it becomes clear that everyone has a grudge against her and a consuming interest in her will . . .
Connie Willis is one of science fiction’s most decorated authors, with a staggering eleven HUGOs and seven NEBULA AWARDs to her name. She is best known for her sequence of time-travel stories including SF Masterworks DOOMSDAY BOOK and TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG and the HUGO AWARD-winning diptych BLACKOUT and ALL CLEAR. This omnibus collects her solo debut, LINCOLN’S DREAMS, which won the JOHN W. CAMPBELL MEMORIAL AWARD and PASSAGE, shortlisted for the HUGO, NEBULA JOHN W. CAMPBELL and ARTHUR C. CLARKE AWARDs.
When Pickford’s body was found hanging from a beam in his garage, Inspector Loxton was sure that it was a case of suicide following a series of financial and domestic worries.
Then came the criminologist with his slogan, ‘Common sense is all you need’, and in ten minutes he upset the inspector’s hypothesis. Further evidence pointed so clearly in one direction that the arrest and the conviction of the criminal seemed almost a matter of form.
But both the Inspector and the expert are way off course, and it is left to the Chief Constable to clear up the mystery …
‘Mr Connington has the art of writing delightful detective novels’ Baltimore Evening Sun
Two incidents involving a Peeping Tom are reported from the Swim and Tan Motel to the detective agency belonging to Donald Lam and Bertha Cool. Bertha, meanwhile, has warned Donald to steer clear of the dangerous jobs and stick to aiding solid, sane citizens like Montrose L. Carson. And all Carson wants is the name of the informer in his office who is passing on confidential material to a business rival, Herbert Dowling.
But when Dowling is murdered at the Swim and Tan Motel, it looks as though Bertha has picked the wrong client, and Donald the right girl when he chooses a lively bait to catch the Peeping Tom … and the murderer.
Asmodeus Mogart was not a bad fellow, as demons go. Having gotten in trouble back in the home office, he had been assigned to duty on Earth. There he toiled, doing the kinds of things demons do and turning into something of a drunk.
Then a rogue asteroid threatened to crash into Earth and destroy all life on the planet – demons included! There had to be a better way.
Mac Walters and Jill McCullough, holding a private wake for their world in a Reno bar, were more than startled when a strange-looking little drunk told them they could save the world. All they had to do was enter five alternate universes and steal a demon-guarded jewel in each. Clearly, the man was crazy.
But they had nothing better to do than go along with the gag. Then they each found themselves, naked and alone, on a hostile alien world!