Ransom Note Press
Nine Man's Murder

Ransom Note Press HomeAndrogynous Murder...Circle of AssassinsCop with the Pink PistolNever Kill a FriendNine Man's MurderThe Ocelot ChroniclesOutsmarting of CriminalsSplitTales from the Back PageWho Gets the Apartment?Writing on the WallSales and Order InfoSubmission Guidelines

Agatha Christie Facebook Page Contestants: please click anywhere on this line to download a PDF file with three chapters from Nine Man's Murder.




by Eric Keith

March 1, 2011



"Keith keeps the pages turning"  -- Library Journal

"Highly recommended." -- Midwest Book Review

"If you're an Agatha Christie fan, this is a must!"  -- BookPleasures

"A great story which leads readers back to the time of Ten Little Indians, And Then There Were None, Clue and many other 'locked room' mysteries." -- Feathered Quill

"It will grab you by the lapels and not let you go until you read the last page." -- Reading Review

"Keith creates a maze of betrayal, deceit, and death that will keep the reader tense and jumpy as the clock steadily ticks toward the final hour." -- Fiction Addict

Nine graduates of Damien Anderson's Detective Training Agency assemble at an isolated vacation home in northern California for a class reunion.  But their host remains elusive...until he is found dead in a closet.  Soon thereafter, the murders begin.  One by one, the graduates are eliminated by a mysterious person who has decided to pit his or her wits against the guests’.  As a snowstorm traps the party at the inn, the survivors come to realize that the murderer must be one of them.  Yet despite all their attempts to protect themselves, the killings continue despite locked rooms and doors.  What is the killer's motivation?  Is an old grudge at work?  Could the explanation have something to do with a mysterious accident on the set of a film titled Nine Man Morris, which the classmates had investigated fifteen years earlier?

Chapter 1

 December 12


   The railroad station was deserted. Not a soul in sight. Bryan West had arrived before the others, it seemed.

   What if no one else showed up? No, the invitation had been too intriguing to pass up. Still, it was over three hundred miles from Los Angeles. The sun had beckoned after him when Bryan had left the hub of southern California this morning; here glowering thunderheads were strung across the sky like No Trespassing signs. Best to wait inside.

   It would be a well-earned vacation. Bryan had been working too hard, pushing himself to build an empire out of the bankrupt carcasses of his competitors. A ruthless game, but it had to be played.

   Absently he fingered the knotted cord dangling from his neck, the necklace Prissy had made for him. If it were not something that could be damaged in the shower, it would never leave his body at all. Was it only yesterday he had last seen her? Thursday… yes. Twice a week he saw his sister, regular as clockwork.

   We were all victims of the kidnapping, Bryan thought. Mom. Dad. Priscilla. Me.

   Bryan glanced around the large, ghostly station. He was alone. He slipped the note from his jacket pocket and read it once again with a frown. Typed. No clues as to the author. All his adult life he had been investigating threats like this to other people; but now that it was personal, he understood why his clients had always been so unnerved.

   The unexpected sound left him little time to thrust the note back into his pocket. A creaking of metal and slow muffled footsteps echoed behind him.

   “Move and you’re dead.” The footsteps drew nearer. “Now raise your hands and turn around. Slowly.”

    With arms raised, Bryan turned, green eyes faintly aglow, to confront the muzzle of a small silver handgun.

   Bryan studied his assailant. Taller than Bryan, with a wiry frame. Sleek black hair swept carelessly across a tawny forehead, wrinkled with care and browned as much by the sun as by his Latin heritage. Cool brown eyes with a hunted look, like a man running from something.

   “Well, if it isn’t the late great Bryan West,” said the newcomer.

   Bryan glanced at his wristwatch.

   “Actually, I’m a bit early.”

   “Still the same old wise guy. Just like when we were partners. Cool-headed, always one step ahead of your adversary. Fiercely competitive, to the point of stealing clients from rivals.”

   “Funny, you never complained when my tactics failed. Only when they worked.” Bryan stared at the gun. “Do you really need to point that thing at me?”

   “I do if I want to shoot you.”

   The explosion muffled Bryan’s protest before he could utter it.