Shortly after Lord Elsmere re-insures his favourite painting for a hefty price, it is stolen and with no sign of a break-in. Elsmere is known to be struggling financially, so is it a staged theft or has one of his guests taken it? Seething animosities, jealousy, secrets and deception are all found once PIs Langham and Ralph Ryland take on the case.
We love learning fascinating things about our authors! How does the theft of valuable paintings mirror Eric Brown’s own daydreams, and how did his interest in art theft inspire the plot for his engrossing and twisty new mystery featuring the utterly charming private investigator, Donald Langham? Eric explains below.
I’ve always been interested in art theft. I like reading about the many and ingenious means by which thieves attempt to steal valuable paintings. I’ve written short stories on the subject, and I often daydream about how I might go about stealing paintings myself. (Purely for reasons of research, I assure you). When I began planning this novel, Murder Served Cold, it was initially about the theft of a painting from a Suffolk manor house, and the murder was going to be incidental. Then, as the story and characters took off, things changed. Private detectives Ryland and Langham are called in to find out what has happened to Lord Elsmere’s family heirloom, a valuable Gainsborough, which has vanished from the library. They find where the picture was stashed, much to his lordship’s delight, and have a good idea who the culprit might be – when a body is discovered buried under leaves in nearby woods. What as been a successful art theft case turns into a murder investigation, which uncovers a nest of vipers at Neston Manor and an array of suspects, any one of whom had reason for wanting the murder victim out of the way. Murder Served Cold is set in 1956, in the heart of a freezing winter, and is the sixth novel in the Langham and Dupré series about a thriller writer and part-time detective, Donald Langham, his French wife Maria, and Ralph Ryland, his partner at the detective agency.
MURDER SERVED COLD is out now in the UK and from 1 April in the US. Find out more here.