Murder Served Cold (A Langham & Dupré Mystery)

Written by Eric Brown
Review by K. M. Sandrick

A Gainsborough painting gone missing from Lord Elsmere’s manor house sends private detectives Ralph Ryland and his associate, crime fiction writer Donald Langham, to the Suffolk countryside to investigate. With no signs of breaking and entering the locked library where the painting hung, residents of the manor house are suspects: retired Major Rutherford, fledgling writer and acknowledged beauty Rebecca Miles, scarred and aloof Dutchman Patrick Verlinden, and Elsmere’s son Dudley Mariner and his imposing artist fiancée, Esmeralda Bellamy. The investigation shifts to a murder inquiry when the most likely thief, Verlinden, is found shot-gunned to death on the manor house grounds days after the detectives’ arrival.

Murder Served Cold is 6th in Eric Brown’s Langham and Dupré mysteries, which have paired the mystery writer with his fiancée Maria Dupré since 2013. Now his wife, Dupré plays a background role to Ryland in this novel, which returns to 1950s England and plumbs still-smoldering links to World War II.

A fast-paced whodunit with plenty of assumed identities and side-line plots, Murder Served Cold is a quick and satisfying read, although repeated servings of tea, pints, and whiskies make one wish for other ways of ferreting out motives and modi operandi than the standard murder-mystery conversation. That aside, Murder Served Cold effectively strings readers along, with character reveals that keep crime solvers on their toes until the end.