"A tremendous amount of fun." George R. R. Martin
THE TALES OF HENGHIS HAPTHORN
Henghis Hapthorn is the foremost penetrator of mysteries and uncoverer of secrets in a decadent, far-future Old Earth, one age before Jack Vance's Dying Earth. A superb rationalist, he has long disdained the notion that the universe has an alternative organizing principle: magic. But now a new age is dawning, overturning the very foundations of Hapthorn's existence, and he must struggle to survive in a world where all the rules are changing.
In MAJESTRUM, Hapthorn is on the trail of an unknown killer who collects body parts from his victims. The search leads him off-planet, into the Ten Thousand Worlds of The Spray, then turns in an unexpected direction as the freelance discriminator learns that an ancient and evil power is plotting to reassert its dominion over Old Earth.
This start to a promising new far-future series (after 2005's The Gist Hunter ) introduces Henghis Hapthorn, a sleuth who combines the confident brilliance of Sherlock Holmes with the amusing voice of P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster, in a fantastical mystery reminiscent of Randall Garrett's Lord Darcy novels. Hapthorn is a discriminator-what freelance detectives are called in his baroque world-who's drawn into political intrigue after receiving an apparently simple commission to vet a young man with designs on an aristocrat's daughter. An odd duo aids Hapthorn on his quest: his integrator, an artificial intelligence that has somehow become a furry frugivorous animal that perches on his shoulder, and Hapthorn's alternate personality, which split off during an earlier "transdimensional" voyage and operates according to intuition rather than analysis. Hughes's successful blend of magic, the supernatural and high-tech with Sherlockian deductions (and cryptic observations straight out of Doyle's canon) suggests a long life for Hapthorn. - Publishers Weekly
Until now, Hughes' erudite master detective, Hengis Hapthorn, has appeared only in a handful of tales recently collected in The Gist Hunter and Other Stories (2005). Renowned on Old Earth and throughout the Ten Thousand Worlds as the galaxy's foremost discriminator (i.e., private eye), Hapthorn is the far future's answer to Sherlock Holmes. After a thorny case involving demons and magical forces, Hapthorn finds himself saddled with an extra voice, personifying his intuition, inside his head. This alter ego becomes both boon and annoyance during a pair of cases that interconnect when a routine investigation into the true motives of a wealthy debutante's suitor gives way to a manhunt for an evildoer plotting to overthrow the ruling archon of Old Earth. Somehow intertwined with both pursuits is an indecipherable magical book with which the alter ego is obsessed to the point of threatening to relegate Hapthorn to a backseat in his own mind. Hughes artfully blends wit, colorful characterizations, and intriguing plot twists in a compelling yarn that detective-novel readers may like, too. - Booklist
Matthew Hughes (1949- )
Matthew Hughes was born in Liverpool, England, and moved to Canada at a very early age. He has made a living as a writer all his adult life, first as a journalist and then as a staff speechwriter to the Canadian Ministers of Justice and Environment, and - from 1979 until a few years back- as a freelance corporate and political speechwriter in British Columbia. He began to publish short crime fiction in 1982 and his Archonate stories and novels have been compared to the works of Jack Vance. Hughes continues to write and moves wherever his secondary career as a housesitter takes him.