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“Liquidambar: It’s as if Philip Marlowe has stumbled down the Lost Highway into Gormenghast, hunting for The Girl With The Pearl Earring.” Jonas Wheeler, CitySidewalk Typo Blod, a reluctant investigator, is dragged into the world of Edward Hopper’s paintings where he’s compelled to solve the disappearance of beautiful Ellen Bogen. When journalist Typo Blod encounters a stranger on public transport, he becomes absorbed by Edward Hopper’s paintings like a fly in amber. Time halts at the instant depicted in Hopper’s most famous works and Blod’s world is thrown out of kilter. In a city tantalisingly part historical, part fantastical, Blod falls in love with Ellen Bogen, subject of Hopper’s Summertime. As Blod struggles to persuade a magazine editor to commission some articles from him, he encounters the homeless C.O. Jones begging on a commuter train. Jones claims to be trapped in a “vicious circle” and shows Blod a book that causes Blod to slip through a crack in reality and find himself driving along a road nothing to do with the city in which he lives. A gas station attendant fills his car’s tank with “liquid amber”, and directs him towards Fulcrum. Here, Jones re-appears to provoke Blod with questions about distant memories. Blod’s answers propel him along a bizarre storyline. By its culmination, Blod realises his experiences have taught him to better appreciate the “liquid amber” of the present moment. Liquidambar combines the atmosphere of Philip Marlowe’s adventures with Hopper’s characters and imagery in a surprisingly fresh detective mystery.
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Chris Bell was born in the autumn of the 20th Century. Shrugging off this early setback, he moved from Holyhead to Hamburg, via London, in a futile search for any of the trappings of rock superstardom, before arriving in New Zealand where, having gone as far as he could, he now works as a writer. His short stories have appeared in 'The Third Alternative'; 'Postscripts'; 'Grotesque'; 'The Heidelberg Review'; 'TransVersions'; 'Not One of Us' and 'Takahe', as well as on the internet. 'The Cruel Countess' was anthologised in 'The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror (10th Annual Edition)', published by St Martin's Griffin Books, in which his collection 'The Bumper Book of Lies' received an Honourable Mention. 'Shem-el-Nessim' has appeared in 'This Is The Summer of Love' and 'The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror 21'. His poetry has appeared in 'Workshop New Poetry'; 'Snorkel'; and foam:e. 'Liquidambar', his first novel, won the UKAuthors/PADB 'Search For A Great Read' novel writing competition. He has described himself as "a glass-two-thirds-empty sort of a person".
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