“A strangler who appears and vanishes unseen from a private park. Forgive me for sounding callous, hut it’s the sort of creaky melodramatic idea that would have seemed old hat in the 1930s.”
The Peculiar Crimes Unit is under threat once again, as the Powers That Be see a way to turn the team’s current investigation to their benefit. A woman has been murdered inside a locked city garden – if you haven’t been to London, or watched Notting Hill, these are situated in the centre of residential squares, with access only granted to residents – and the murderer seems to have vanished without trace.
When a second killing occurs, several patterns begin to form, but it will take the genius of Arthur Bryant and his team to sort out which pattern is the one that leads to the truth. Such a shame that he seems to be using his own hallucinations of London’s past as one of his primary sources of information…
One of the perils of being a book blogger is stalling on a series. It’s no fault of the reader, but when a series that you’ve following doesn’t crop up on NetGalley, the source of e-review copies, then it’s easy to miss a new release. And with a budget like mine, where most of my book money goes towards obscure Golden Age novels, you wait for the paperback and then forget to keep an eye out for it…
But with Book 15 coming very soon, and having procured a review copy of that one, it served as a prompt reminder to get caught up. And how easy it is to forget how good a series this is…
Christopher Fowler has created such an effective cast of characters over the course of the series that you can’t help but be drawn into their world. Arthur Bryant is such a great creation. I’m still not sure that I’m pleased that Fowler found a way to proceed past the character’s perfect farewell in The Burning Man. It was such a perfect piece of writing, but on the other hand, we get to see more of the irascible unpredictable genius. As I’ve mentioned before, he dominates the book, but this time, John May does get a bit more to do than just responding to his partner.
As for the story, it moves all over the place, even linking (in a completely non-spoilery way) to an earlier case, with multiple plot strands dovetailing into a satisfying solution. But, as ever, it’s the stops along the way that raise the adventures of the PCU above the average murder mystery, with those little bits of London’s history and geography livening up every page.
An engrossing page turner of a book, with characters that you care about and a plot to keep you thinking. Another absolutely cracking read – the Book of the Month is going to be tricky this month – and obviously, it’s Highly Recommended. And pop back later in the month for Book Fifteen – Hall of Mirrors.
Other Bryant & May reviews:
- On The Loose
- Off The Rails
- The Memory Of Blood
- The Invisible Code
- The Bleeding Heart
- The Burning Man
- London’s Glory
- Strange Tide