Thursday, August 9, 2018

Duck Egg Blues by Martin Ungless - Book Tour

 
Duck Egg Blues
Duck Egg Blues is funny, sad, mysterious and thrilling. "A robot butler detective, what’s not to love?" 


Martin Ungless is a WCN Escalator Prize winning author who has twice been shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association for their Debut Dagger Award.
What the CWA Judges said about his work:
‘A clever and ambitious story’
‘I was laughing and crying and hugging the sheets to my chest’
This perfect slice of 'cozy crime' is narrated in the voice of a pre-war English butler and concerns a rich and powerful businesswoman whose daughter goes missing from their country house estate. That the story- teller is a robot belonging to an impoverished detective brings a fresh and original take on 'cozy', and as for 'crime'... well, it does begin to escalate, what with MI6, criminal gangs, corrupt police, and that’s not to mention international cybercrime!
As the plot strands weave together, we discover that behind one mystery lurks a greater threat. No one is safe, not even PArdew...
This is without doubt the robot-butler-detective thriller you have been waiting for! 
 
Meeting Mr Borg


INTRO:

Don, an irascible private detective, owns PArdew, a robot butler, though it soon becomes clear to the reader that Don wishes he did not.

Our narrator is PArdew, who, because he had his memory wiped when Don acquired him, views much of the world as if seeing it for the first time

Don has been given a case to track down the Mayor’s daughter. PArdew is with him by accident and Don leads them to an abandoned ink factory, where suspended above the vast central space is a big blue wooden box, like a large garden shed. They ascend the spiral stair, cross the rickety bridge, and Don attempts to speak with the occupant. This person wants nothing to do with them until he catches sight of PArdew. The door is unlocked. The detective duo enter.

In this extract, the Fiat and its owner, Singe, refer to an earlier case which everyone thinks has been solved. Everyone but Don, as we shall see.
By this stage in the plot, PArdew is missing one of his feet. He wears a single large Doc Marten boot to cover this absence.
A man who threatened Don, the same man who ran over PArdew’s foot, also peed on Don’s carpet. Read on and you’ll see why that’s relevant.


EXTRACT:

We find the young gentleman already seated amidst a slew of desks in the centre of the room.
‘What you want is an eyepatch,’ he says to me.
‘Thank you, Sir.’ I am completely at a loss.
Monitors surround him, and keyboards, and metres of cabling running to the numerous grey boxes filling the floor beneath the tables. The hum is presumably the sound of cooling fans, and overall I detect a real potency of processing power. 
‘Okay, so you’re Singe,’ my Master says.
‘I’m Borg.’
‘Like the tennis player?’
‘What?’ Mr Borg’s fingers race across a keyboard with typing skills which far exceed my Master.
‘Singe?’ repeats my Master.
‘I’m drawing a blank, man.’
‘But you know about the Fiat Punto.’
I am hit by a barrage of electromagnetic inquisition. Mr Borg briefly glances up. 
‘What can you tell us about the Punto?’ asks my Master.
I resist a second wave. 
Mr Borg, still typing furiously, answers, ‘Er, it’s… er, a car?
Don’t get smart!’ My Master takes a step towards him.
Now all my ports are being questioned at the very same time, and Mr Borg’s focus is not upon my Master’s questions. 
‘Sorry,’ he says, ‘you said something about a Fiat?’ 
The attack intensifies.
‘Why don’t you tell me about it?’ my Master requests.
Um…’ Mr Borg’s eyes dart between 3 different screens.
Mr Borg, Sir…’ I hesitate, it not ever being my place to interrupt. I turn to my Master. ‘Might I, Sir?’ 
A sudden exhaustion. ‘Be my guest.’
‘Mr Borg, Sir, I am aware of the range of technology at your disposal, and I can assure you that you will not breach what you might call, my firewalls. I am able to rotate protocols at will and of course learn from previous attacks, however, were you to be so generous as to answer my Master’s questions, I should be happy to handshake with any of your devices in the usual ways.’
Mr Borg looks at me blankly for 14 seconds, typing all the while, I rebuff his final wave of wifi probing, and now his shoulders slump. 
Done.’ His hands drop from the keyboard and he swivels to my Master. ‘What can I tell you? I’ve never heard of Singe.’ He kicks his chair over to a different screen, and taps on a new keyboard. ‘What good would a car do me?’ Tap tap. ‘I can’t drive.’
‘Tell me why it’s special then,’ my Master persists. ‘Don’t you want it back? I could do that for you. Make it happen, if you want.’ 
Mr Borg spins round to look at him, and appears to be considering the offer. 
‘No idea what you’re talking about,’ he says.
‘Aren’t we past that point?’
‘Oi!’ Mr Borg turns angrily to me. 
‘Apologies, Sir. You do recall our agreement? Perhaps you’d kindly answer my Master’s questions?
He leans back in his chair with his hands clasped behind his head and finally faces away from his screens.
My Master asks him, ‘What’s your name. Where d’you live?’
‘Borg. Here.’ 
‘Where?’
‘Here!’ Mr Borg waves an arm around the room. The mattress in the corner lies beside a little stove and to the other side of that sits an open clothes-rail, though this contains more empty hangers than otherwise. 
‘So, you admit you’re Singe?’
‘Why don’t you go.’
‘You want the car back or not?’
‘No, I don’t want the freaking car.’
‘Why not?’
‘Who’d you say you were?’ He reaches beneath the desk.
Oh, my transponders!
‘Would you mind, Shh..Shh…Sir?’ I am dizzy! ‘Shhiiiiiir.’ The pitch of my voice wanders. I am swimming. Dizzzzy-whizzy! Oh my…! 
In 2 quick strides my Master reaches Mr Borg and grips his shoulders. ‘Enough!’ he cries, and just as quickly as it started, the Massive Magnetic Field dies away. 
‘Thank you, Sir.’ I nod also to Mr Borg as the remnants of the swirling sensation run out through my toes - both real and imagined. 
My Master is a man of action, indeed, but how resourceful too is Mr Borg, and at this moment these 2 skill-sets sit in confrontation, faces almost touching. Mr Borg’s eyes slide sideways to a bank of monitors displaying the interiors of Potters Inks Works 1893. Mr Borg seems nervous of something other than my Master. 
My Master releases his hold. ‘Why the clear out?’ he asks. ‘Downstairs, I mean.’ A change of tack, perhaps a detective’s ruse.
‘Heavy people, man.’
‘Threats?’
Mr Borg says nothing. 
My Master bends towards him. ‘Who from?’
‘Building owners? How should I know? Slapped the kids round too. Like what had they done to him?’
‘He must have said something?’
‘I didn’t talk to him. Wasn’t gonna let him in here, was I? Not neither time. The guy was a super-freak, kept pissing everywhere.’
My Master stands tall and faces me. He does not speak and his expression is somewhat of a challenge to interpret, though it does communicate some personal dilemma upon the meaning of which my different neural-nets proffer different views.
‘Can you describe him?’ my Master asks Mr Borg, ‘er, to my… um…?’ He wobbles a finger vaguely in my direction.
‘If I might make so bold, Sir?’ I believe I have understood his intentions.
‘What?’
‘It might be simplest if I demonstrate, Sir.’ 
No objection is conveyed and since I have a personal record of Mr Karl Jaspar Furl, from that time when I encountered him, I conjure up a digital version of his features and project this on my face.  
‘What the hell!’ My Master seems initially a touch perturbed by the image, but he recovers well. ‘Jesus,’ he laughs. ‘Jeeheesus.
Mr Borg is standing now. 
As an aid to recognition, I animate the features. ‘Alright?’ I am addressing Mr Borg using Mr Furl’s voice and syntax. ‘Recognise me, Borg?’ I hope no one would think that this is how I would chose to speak.
‘It’s horrible,’ my Master chuckles.
Mr Borg backs away. 
My Master only just manages to break into his own laughter to ask, ‘What’s he doing with his mouth?’, guffawing uncontrollably. Behind him, Mr Borg has reached the outer wall. I feel that this imitation of Mr Karl Jaspar Furl has rendered Mr Borg rather afraid, according to biometrics, and I ought to warn my Master since I am not comfortable being the cause of this ill ease.
‘Sir—’
‘It’s got a fishhook in it,’ my Master cries, laughter closing up his eyes. ‘A bloody fishhook!’ I believe this reference is to the curl which I am projecting into Mr Furl’s top lip. A habit which I mimic accurately.
Mr Borg has opened a door behind him.
‘Sir, I should warn you…’ but I have spoken with Mr Furl’s unusually gruff voice, and my Master doubles-up again. 
‘Was he some sort of cartoon?’ asks my Master.
Mr Borg has passed beyond the opening and is now standing on a narrow wooden gantry.
Sir,’ I manage to vocalise in my standard voice, ‘Mr Borg is leaving.’ 
My Master spins. Mr Borg is running. My Master races after him. Mr Borg has reached the other side. He lifts an arm. My Master tries to stop. Mr Borg yanks on the cord, the bridge falls slack. Alert! The battens drop away. My Master steps into empty space…
 
 
For the duration of this blog tour, Duck Egg Blues will be on a Kindle Countdown Deal, so if you are tempted, purchase before the price rises


Author Bio Following this year’s success, Martin Ungless had now been shortlisted three times by the Crime Writers’ Association for their Debut Dagger. He has won a WCN Escalator Award, and been successful in a number short-story competitions. Martin started life as an architect though now lives in the Norfolk countryside and writes full time. Martin is currently studying for the prestigious MA in Fiction (Crime) at UEA.

Social Media Links https://twitter.com/UnglessM

 
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