Dispatches from the wilds of Proseambique – Blood and Stone

Exciting news! I just received the mock-up of the cover for my forthcoming novel, Blood and Stone. Check it out!

They’ve also finalised the blurb:

Like everyone in the word-puzzle world, Ogden Lylesmith was shocked by the brutal murder of Horatio LeSprat, the reclusive genius responsible for some of the finest brainteasers ever made. So when, two days later, he received a letter from the dead man – a man he had never met, containing only a half-finished crossword, Ogden knew that he was in for a mind-bending race against time – and danger. At the heart of it; a centuries-old Freemason conspiracy, and underneath the Vatican, a ticking bomb.

A vampire bomb.

Whatever happens, one thing is certain: the papacy will never be the same again.

Early praise:

If Stephanie Meyer and Dan Brown had a love-child, and that child was Chuck Norris, that would be Spencer Harding” – The Chicago Sun-Times

…Harding manages perhaps the most innovative use of an iPhone as a weapon ever conceived, whilst simultaneously making a comment on Apple’s draconian App Store policies. Brilliant!” – David Pogue, New York Times

Hell. Yes.” – Tom Clancy


Ogden was engaged in a friendly debate with his collegue, Wilbur Franks, when the mail arrived.
“I just think,” opined Wilbur “that using plurals in a crossword is unimaginative and lazy. ‘oh, I need a word that ends in ‘S’… I know, I’ll use a plural!’ Buy a fucking dictionary.”
“I disagree. By limiting your vocabulary to the singular form, you reduce the possibilities, and therefore, the difficulty of the…” Ogden stopped, noticing the return address on the envelope before him.
“What is it?” asked Wilbur
“This letter… it’s from Horatio LeSprat.”
Wilbur’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know you knew him.”
“I didn’t.”
Ogden tore open the envelope, inside was a crossword puzzle, half solved.
“Do you think…” wondered Wilbur, as they stared at it.
“7 down – ancient fraternal order. 3 across – plans made in secret. 12 down – nosferatu. 6 across – Paul’s church. 14 down… incendiary device…”
They looked at each other in shock for a moment, before exclaiming in unison.
“The Freemasons have planted a vampire bomb under the Vatican!”


Valerie was brandishing the flaming torch, casting light out into the gloomy catacombs. Demonic eyes shone back. The sputtering flame would soon go out.
“Do we… do we have anything to ward them off?” She whispered, for the first time a hint of fear noticeable in her usually cool and collected voice.
Ogden searched his pockets. “Only my iPhone… oh, if only Apple hadn’t denied the ultraviolet torch app for wasting too much power! It would have turned the screen into a vampire-burning machine! …but… wait! That’s it! Do you still have that letter opener?”
Valerie searched her pockets, and found the Pope’s letter opener with the microscopic riddle engraved on the blade. Ogden took it and pried open the casing of the iPhone. “If I can just…” he grunted as he fiddled with the circuitry “…reverse the transistors connected to the display… modulate the polarity of the current… that… that should do it!” he snapped the phone closed, and switched it back on. The screen was blank.
“It didn’t work!” moaned Valerie.
“No no, it did! The screen is now putting out only ultraviolet light – invisible to us… deadly to vampires!” to illustrate his point, Ogden pointed the screen out into the darkness, just as the torch finally spluttered out. The angry hissing of vampires in the dark, accompanied by an unpleasant smell somewhat like burning bacon, confirmed the success of his modifications.

Published in: on July 30, 2009 at 11:55 am  Comments (27)  
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27 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Truly, this should prove the greatest novel of the modern age.

    Wait, what the hell am I thinking? The greatest goddamn novel EVER.

    • At least until the sequel – “More blood & harder stone“.

      • Sound like the title of a porn movie.

  2. “A vampire bomb.”

    Love it. Should sell millions with those topical themes.

    • I sure hope so! I feel I should point out that a vampire bomb, in this context, is not a bomb which releases some substance/energy that turns people into vampires, but rather a bomb which releases a whole bunch of vampires in an explosive fashion. It is an important distinction.

      Of course, that does technically make it a bomb “which releases some substance/energy that turns people into vampires”; that substance being vampires – but you get what I mean.

      • Yes! That is totally how I was imagining it.

  3. You are awesome. Any belief I had in your inability to follow through on a ridiculous yet strangely appealing idea has been totally annihilated.

    Have you got a release date set yet? 😛

    • Yes, yes I am. I am glad to see you realise the truth of it now.

      As for a release date; it will be out just as soon as the world is ready for it.

      That may take some time.

  4. I love the excerpts! This is gold!

  5. David Pogue says he has never heard of this book,
    yet you quote him?

  6. David Pogue thought your book was real and complained about the fake quote! No kidding. Check his twitter feed.

    • No kidding indeed.

  7. Why on earth would you make up a FAKE blurb from David Pogue, who says he’s never even HEARD of this book????

  8. Frankly, I find the excerpts to be horrendously boring. Furthermore, I have serious doubts about the overly glowing comments that you’ve received thus far on this page.

    Also, came here through David Pogue Twitter. He said that he hadn’t even heard of your book.

    By the way, are you aware that you have misspellings in your excerpt?

    • Sorry old bean, but I think you’ll find that for those of us who use The Queen’s, all those ducks are jolly-well in a row.

  9. Ha! David Pogue says he’s never heard of this book.
    So how could he write that quote?


  10. Didn’t know that David Pogue spoke like that- americans don’t even use the word “whilst” – from an author- really? unacceptable!! A fake quote doesn’t bode well for the book’s content!

    • Just because you may tolerate that kind of linguistic abuse on your continent, doesn’t mean I need do the same on my book-jacket.

  11. Bogus quotes for a bogus book???

  12. RT @pogue
    Great–just great. Low-life publisher MAKES UP a bogus quote by me to promote a book I’ve never heard of. Sleazebags! http://bit.ly/XNb2W

  13. There’s one problem with the fake Pogue quote. Americans never say “whilst.” It’s always “while.”

    • I’d say that’s really more of a problem with American English, m’self.

  14. According to David Pogue’s Twitter: “publisher MAKES UP a bogus quote by me to promote a book I’ve never heard of. Sleazebags!”

    • I think you’ll find that was “Low-life publisher…”

  15. Making up fake quotes from famous people? Yeah that’ll make want to read this dreck.

  16. Shocking! I can’t believe you used a fake quote to promote your book! What next? Did you make up the vampires as well?

    Well I’m certainly not going to read this book NOW.


    Isn’t it disturbing that Americans find it so easy to believe that this book has been published, and so hard to believe that someone would use the word ‘whilst’?

    • This comment WINS THE THREAD.

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