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Death from a Top Hat

Death from a Top Hat

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…
Ominous Folly

Ominous Folly

Diana and Jane had their glamorous European road trip all planned out: shopping in Paris, then down along the Spanish coast for sun and sea.

A strange road takes them through twists and turns until they black out. When they wake, they’re on a strange island, with no way off and no sign of how they got there. This strange bubble out of time has no seasons, no day or night, and is populated by a small collection of people. They are cared for – or ruled over – by the mysterious ‘Master’.

They’re in paradise. But they’re not allowed to leave…

OMINOUS FOLLY is one of Denis Hughes’ works under his many pseudonyms. It has been out of print in the UK for decades and is now available for the first time as an eBook!
Sleep Over

Sleep Over

Remember what it’s like to last an entire night without sleep? That dull but constant headache. The feeling of your brain on edge. How easily irritated you were. How difficult it was to concentrate, even on seemingly menial tasks. It was just a single restless night, but everything felt just a little bit harder to do, and the only real comfort was knowing your head would finally hit the pillow at the end of the day, and when you awoke the next morning everything would return to normal.

But what if sleep didn’t come the next night? Or the night after? What might happen if you, your friends and family, your coworkers, the strangers you pass on the street, all slowly began to realize that rest might not ever come again?

How slowly might the world fall apart? How long would it take for a society without sleep to descend into chaos?

Sleep Over is collection of waking nightmares, a scrapbook of the haunting and poignant stories from those trapped in a world where the pillars of society are crumbling, and madness is slowly descending on a planet without rest.

Online vigilantism turns social media into a deadly gamble.

A freelance journalist grapples with the ethics of turning in footage of mass suicide.

A kidnapped hypnotist is held hostage by those at wit’s end for a cure.

In Sleep Over, these stories are just the beginning. Before the Longest Day, the world record was eleven days without sleep. It turns out most of us can go much longer.
Aftertaste

Aftertaste

An undead monster hunter must track down a killer, trailer-park-havoc-wreaking were-frog in this outrageous mash-up of Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy and George Romero’s zombie horror.

Before he died, Saelig Zilch was a chef. Now, posthumously recruited by a shadowy agency for reasons still unknown, tasked with keeping the public safe from things that go bump in the night, he hunts monsters.

Zilch scrabbles out of a North Carolina grave in someone else’s body. Someone recently dead. He only has a few days to find his bearings and carry out his latest mission, before the precious few nanobugs in his corpse shell are exhausted and he’s forced to start all over at the beginning. As he trudges down the main thoroughfare, he runs into Galavance. More accurately, she runs into him with her pink Chevy Cavalier.

A case of unfortunate timing? Maybe not. Turns out the critter Zilch has been dispatched to dispatch of-a murderous were-frog-squelches uncomfortably close to the trailer Galavance calls home. And come to think of it, Galavance’s boyfriend Jolby has been spending a lot of nights out lately . . .
The Star Magicians

The Star Magicians

Who will stop the planetary marauders?

For 6000 years the great Carina Empire ruled the galaxy – but slowly, under the remorseless erosion of centuries, the Empire faded as its Imperial bloodline ran out in weaklings who paid tribute to the wild, untamed Barbarians of the Rim. Finally came the day when the Barbarian legions struck at Carina itself, destroying in a single day and night the mightiest empire in galactic history.

In the ages that followed, the rest of the empire decayed, its individual suns and worlds losing contact, isolated Star-Kings fighting to hold their own cultures together . . . and failing. Ironically, only the Barbarians themselves remained the only coordinated power among the Near Stars. Their fleets drifted the star-trails, looting and destroying everything in their way.

One world alone stood against the dark night of savagery that was engulfing the galaxy – Parlion, the planet of the Star Magicians. And at last came the final battle for civilization in the stars.
And Then the Town Took Off

And Then the Town Took Off

Earth, can you spare a city?

The town of Superior, Ohio, certainly was living up to its name! In what was undoubtedly the most spectacular feat of the century, it simply picked itself up one night and rose two full miles above Earth! Radio messages stated simply that Superior had seceded from Earth. But Don Cort, stranded on that rising town, was beginning to suspect that nothing was simple about Superior except its citizens. Calmly they accepted their rise in the world as being due to one of their local townspeople, a crackpot professor. But after a couple of weeks of floating around, it began to be obvious that the professor had no idea how to get them down. So then it was up to Cort: either find a way to anchor Superior, or spend the rest of his days on the smallest-and the nuttiest-planet in the galaxy!
Gateway to Elsewhere

Gateway to Elsewhere

Tony Gregg was just an ordinary everyday American until the day he came into possession of an old Barkut coin. He knew it was more than just a collector’s curio because there was no such place on any map of Earth, past or present. He learned then that it could be used as a key – a key to a GATEWAY TO ELSEWHERE.

That was the beginning of one of the most fabulous and fantastic adventures that ever befell a young man looking for excitement. For Gregg plunged forthwith into a fourth-dimensional world of the Arabian Nights, where the djinns of Aladdin’s Lamp were rampaging realities, and a lovely princess was waiting to be rescued!
The Shores of Death

The Shores of Death

With Earth teetering on the brink of extinction, only one man dares to defy the legacy of the Spaceraiders – Clovis Marca, the twilight man.

Long ago Earth, now fixed on her axis, with eternal day on one side, eternal night on the other and a ribbon of twilight in between, was ravaged by galactic raiders. Earthlings recovered, grew stronger. But now, unable to reproduce, the last humans are frenzied with final decadence. And fear.

Only Clovis Marca, the last man born on Earth, dares to brave infected space to seek the impossible solution. His dark quest leads him to face Orlando Sharvis, the scientist whose insane experiments on his own mind and body might just save the human race… but would that race then be more, or less, human?
Royal Airs

Royal Airs

Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city.

Rafe Adova lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no real ambition – until the night he helps a girl names Corene, who looks like she’s stumbled into the wrong bar.

Josetta is fascinated by the man who has helped her sister. Rafe is unlike anyone she’s ever encountered – someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings.

Rafe is also drawn to Josetta, but when he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries and the reason behind the attack is discovered, Rafe and Josetta realise that the truth could endanger not only their newfound love but also their very lives . . .
Wrapt in Crystal

Wrapt in Crystal

Sweetly are the secrets told
wrapt in crystal,
limned in gold . . .

On a planet of barren beauty near the edge of the civilized galaxy, two religions are practiced. Both sects worship the same goddess – the Triumphantes in joy and splendour, the Fideles in solemnity and selflessness. As different as day and night, sun and shadow, joy and grief, the two sects are now bound together in death . . .

A serial killer is stalking the priestesses, killing first a Triumphante, then a Fidele, in turn. Six women are now dead, and the planetary authorities are at a loss. Enter Interfed Agent Cowen Drake. A cunning professional, he must immerse himself in an unfamiliar world of stark spirituality to catch the killer. A world that will trap him between opulence and sacrifice, between duty and desire and between two extraordinary women – one who could become the killer’s ultimate victim . . .
Bury Him Darkly

Bury Him Darkly

The night watchman at Hallams, the long-established Bond Street jewellers, is found dead with his head battered in, and a number of display cases have been rifled. Chief Inspector Burr picks up the trail, with the young Inspector Poole as his assistant.

But before long, the crime at Hallams is overshadowed by a mystery which stirs Scotland Yard into a frenzy of activity. Even the great Superintendent Fraser is aroused from his customary Olympian calm; but it is the detailed work of young Poole which eventually solves the double problem, links mystery to mystery and brings the clear light of day . . .
The Day Of The Triffids

The Day Of The Triffids

When Bill Masen wakes up in his hospital bed, he has reason to be grateful for the bandages that covered his eyes the night before. For he finds a population rendered blind and helpless by the spectacular meteor shower that filled the night sky, the evening before. But his relief is short-lived as he realises that a newly-blinded population is now at the mercy of the Triffids.

Once, the Triffids were farmed for their oil, their uncanny ability to move and their carnivorous habits well controlled by their human keepers. But now, with humans so vulnerable, they are a potent threat to humanity’s survival. It is up to people like Bill, the few who can still see, to carve out a future for the human race . . .
Nine Hundred Grandmothers

Nine Hundred Grandmothers

Lafferty’s Nine Hundred Grandmothers collects the following stories:

Nine Hundred Grandmothers
Land of the Great Horses
Ginny Wrapped in the Sun
The Six Fingers of Time
Frog on the Mountain
All the People
Primary Education of the Camiroi
Slow Tuesday Night
Snuffles
Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne
Name of the Snake
Narrow Valley
Polity and Custom of the Camiroi
In Our Block
Hog-Belly Honey
Seven Day Terror
The Hole on the Corner
What’s the Name of that Town
Through Other Eyes
One at a Time
Guesting Time
Elephantasm

Elephantasm

Sixteen-year-old Annie Ember lives in grinding poverty in the city…until one day in a mysterious shop she discovers a tiny and ancient ivory elephant. The subsequent murder of her sister’s husband leaves Annie homeless, and she is found employment in a country house far away.

Sir Hampton Smolte returned from India with a great fortune – and also a dark obsession with that conquered land. His mansion is fanciful and extraordinary, like a raja’s palace set down in green English parkland.

Annie becomes a scullery maid in this strange place full of stuffed animals, eccentric servants and the even more peculiar Smolte family. Soon she catches the eye of the handsome Rupert and gradually succumbs to his advances…till one night she learns in disgust and horror just what his lovemaking entails.

Annie’s helpless fury then transforms this dream-house into a whirlwind of panic and the impossible…legging in all the avenging power of the jungle, and unlocking Hampton Smolte’s darkest secrets.
When the Lights Go Out

When the Lights Go Out

Hesta Web, with her hot red hair and her tough, guarded coldness, is trapped with a mother who hates her and a father who is mostly away earning money on an oil rig. When Hesta discovers that her mother and her mother’s lover have had rampant sex in Hesta’s bed, she absconds with her friend Janey to the seaside.

It is the last day of the season, sun bright and sea sparkling. The bars and shops are open, the funfair spins round with shrieks and shouts. As night falls, the illuminations go on. But when Janey catches the last train to London, Hesta stays behind. She falls in with the gothic-looking, unpleasantly attractive Skilt and his subject colony of junkies and beggars. In a rotting hotel on the front, among the broken marble balustrades, the mouse-eaten rooms and the bonfire in the ballroom, Hesta takes up her new life. She hears drugged legends told beside the fire, the rumours of ghosts and the strangeness of the sea.

For now the season has ended, the seaside is deserted, the illuminations are switched off, this place is very strange. Does Skilt know its secret? Should Hesta be wary of the blond man who watches her from the pier? And what happens when the lights go out?

It’s dark.
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