Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Spotlight: Duck Egg Blues by Martin Ugless

Duck Egg Blues by Martin Ugless

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!

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



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.

Believing PArdew broken beyond repair, Don has ordered PArdew into the cupboard beneath the stair. PArdew decides to tidy and reorganise the storage whilst he’s there.


I have emptied all the boxes and now find balanced on top of the pile, a very large boot. From this same disgorgement came a rugby ball - I researched oblate spheroids through the generosity of KT-B1106 - and here also lies a trophy awarded to ‘player of the tournament’, but I do not believe this piece of outsized footwear would be suitable for playing rugby or any other sport. It is too cumbersome, what with its seventeen pairs of eyelets up the front and a toecap heavily reinforced with steel. Cricket perhaps? The trophy comprises a small metal man clasping an egg-shaped ball. A tiny robot? No, of course not.
The intercom sounds. Is this the guest my Master predicted a full 11 minutes previously? His powers continue to amaze. My programming pushes me to answer the door, creating a certain tension with the instruction not to leave my cupboard. For his part my Master remains steadfastly at his desk. The buzzer vibrates again. How I wish I might attend. Buzz! Oh frustrated functions, why does he not answer? One could well imagine this visitor to be the very person whom my Master seeks, Mr Karl Jaspar Furl, a man who certainly knows our address. I suppose, however, if my Master were able to predict this new arrival so efficiently, then their identity also should not present a challenge in being precognized. The only mystery then is why my Master ended his earlier phone call so abruptly and so far in advance. Humans, an enigma waiting to be solved. 
The bell to the flat door now trills. How intriguing, the caller must somehow have gained access to the building. Scans reveal my Master unmoved in his chair. I measure his right foot, not a perfect assay but leaving little room for doubt, this boot which I have discovered is far too large for him.
After 4 unanswered rings a fist hammers on the apartment entrance, making quite a racket. In between the bursts of banging, a low nasal voice calls, ‘Come on, Don. We know you’re in. Open up.’ 
My Master eventually tires of the brouhaha and rises to trudge grudgingly towards the noise. He extends an arm, the door bursts open, and my Master is thrown violently back across the kitchen floor.


Morning Don.’
Fishslice,’ my Master answers. Whether this is a name or something other, I cannot know. A glow fills the doorway making it hard to distinguish the caller until he enters further, at which point he is revealed as being both short and wide. I take this to be a business visit and not one made for pleasure purposes, but my services might still be required, butlers being utility servants after all. I increase my hearing-gain.
Boss wants to see you.’ The gentleman’s glowing outline passes from reception through to the office, rocking slightly as he walks. He checks inside the tiny bathroom then leans his stomach on my Master’s desk to peer behind. ‘Where’s the robot, Don?’
My Master is climbing back to his feet, patting dust from his elbows. ‘What robot?’
I must say I take exception to this, I can assure him that there is no dirt whatsoever on that floor. 
Don’t take the michael, Don. Cops saw the robot. Where is it? We got orders, bring it to the boss.’
The rectangular glow which fills the entrance door wobbles now, causing my Master to respond, ‘Oh, hello Minty, didn’t see you there.’
By quantum-crystals, that wall of heat is human! I suppose at at 37.4°C, I should have guessed. Mr Minty is obliged to bend considerably as he enters. 
Hello.’ This mountainous individual has a rather scratchy high-pitched voice. ‘Here you go. Found it on the mat.’ He passes something to my Master which is then placed on reception desk - also known as the kitchen table, but not in this context.
The short visitor repeats his question. ‘Where’s the robot, Don?’ He sounds impatient. ‘Last time of asking nice.’
My Master dives for the gap between Mr Minty and the door, but a giant arm is dropped around his neck. Who are these people? I hug the boot a little closer to my chest.
Don?’ The small man directs his question towards my Master’s rear.
You don’t want it,’ my Master answers, sounding rather strangled. The large man squeezes then releases, then squeezes a little more. ‘Ow,’ my Master yelps. ‘Honestly, it’s broken.’
Don’t be silly, Don.’
Ought I to assist? 
Ow! The cupboard,’ my Master cries.
The gentleman sighs. ‘Silly, Don.’ He must believe that my Master refers to the cloakroom.
Ow!’ Ears must be a weak-point. ‘Behind the sofa!’
The little man merely utters, ‘Minty,’ and these 2 syllables are laden with meaning, for my Master is immediately released and Mr Minty makes a bee-line for my hiding place, stooping obviously to pass beneath the arch. 
The first visitor suggests, ‘Shall we?’ to my Master and I observe their glows depart.
A loud scrape is followed by a thump and the cupboard door opens to reveal a thick curtain of dark-brown corduroy. The turn-ups on these trousers are draped across the toes of enormous shoes, which makes me wonder if Mr Minty is not perhaps here to reclaim his boot. A vast hand thrusts through the opening, digits spread. My attempts to sacrifice the giant piece of footwear are ignored. The fingers probe until they touch my cheek, then gently explore the smoothness of its surface before dropping to my neck.
Out you come,’ he squeaks. The grip is tight, and he yanks me through the opening, somehow contriving to hit my head on both-sides. I am hoisted on his shoulder, smashing the ceiling en route.
Whoops,’ chuckles Mr Minty. I believe I must be lighter than I look. 
Have no concerns, Sir, I am but mere machine.’
Oi-oi,’ he cheeps, ‘it talks!’ In his excitement he jiggles me rather forcefully, in the process knocking my head 3 further times without apology, for which I am grateful, Mr Minty has taken me at my word, and as if further proof were needed I am struck all the more hard when he dips insufficiently to pass below the arch.

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.