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.
“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.”
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.