I love contemporary crime. How on earth had I not come across Bryant and May before? Thank you so much to Transworld Publishers for sending me an advance copy of this novel. My TBR has now grown by eleven titles in a very short space of time…
What the blurb says:
London is under siege. A banking scandal has filled the city with violent protests, and as the anger in the streets detonates, a young homeless man burns to death after being caught in the crossfire between rioters and the police.
But all is not as it seems; an opportunistic killer is using the chaos to exact revenge, but his intended victims are so mysteriously chosen that the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to find a way of stopping him.
Using their network of eccentric contacts, elderly detectives Arthur Bryant and John May hunt down a murderer who adopts incendiary methods of execution. But they soon find their investigation taking an apocalyptic turn as the case comes to involve the history of mob rule, corruption, rebellion, punishment and the legend of Guy Fawkes.
At the same time, several members of the PCU team reach dramatic turning points in their lives – but the most personal tragedy is yet to come, for as the race to bring down a cunning killer reaches its climax, Arthur Bryant faces his own devastating day of reckoning.
‘I always said we’d go out with a hell of a bang,’ warns Bryant.
You can see why I was thrilled to get my grubby little mitts on a copy now, right? And boy, did it deliver! I hadn’t read the first 11 volumes in the series, and although I really wish I had, not having the backstory didn’t hinder the reading of this one little bit.
‘There’s nothing more frightening than watching what people do when they start to lose money’.
Bryant and May are just adorable, but nonetheless highly intelligent octogenarian detectives. We learn that they ‘have a higher strike rate than anyone else on the force’ and that they work in the fictional Peculiar Crimes Unit: “So, why do you need the Peculiar Crimes Unit? ‘Because we perform a unique, invisible service… We’re not constrained by your rules. We use our own judgement. Our task is to prevent public disorder’”.
Lynsey Passmore of the absolutely brilliant website, Dead Good describes Bryant and May as ‘a cross between Miss Marple, Sherlock Holmes and George Smiley’ which is just perfect – thank you Lynsey! As an aside, if you love crime books, drama or film, and haven’t checked out Dead Good – you really, really must.
Fowler is unflinching when it comes to describing some of the more horrific scenes in the novel: ‘As his clothes burned away, his skin blistered in the conflagration until he was nothing but a blackened carapace…’ Having said which, he also manages to tell his story with humour that in no way undermines the seriousness of the subject matter. Incredibly clever. I was particularly fond of this description of Fifty Shades of Grey: ‘That’s not really reading, is it? More like staring at an assortment of words…’
Fowler’s knowledge and obvious love of London is clear to see and the story is interspersed with numerous historical facts as well as poignant social commentary. In fact London itself could arguably be described as a character in its own right.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to get stuck into the others. I’m also very excited to be interviewing Christopher Fowler here on my blog in a couple of weeks… watch this space!
You can pre-order this title on kindle – it’s released on the 26th March: Bryant & May – The Burning Man