Amazingly this is the first time I have read any of Christopher Fowler’s books.
You see the thing is, I love David Jason playing detective’s because he embodies the older generation of old style detective work through his on screen personality. So, when I started reading this book I immediately had the personality of Bryant in my head, absolutely bloody marvellous!
There is a line from a memo from Raymond Land his boss that sums him up for me:
The Police Federation’s outing to the Museum of London’s exhibition ‘Living History’: Senior Citizens Recall London in the 1950’s will take place on 25 October, although I understand that Mr Bryant will not be coming as he does not yet regard the 1950’s as history.
What's it about in a nutshell..
It is Halloween and two ‘should have retired’ detectives are asked to identify a body found in a doorway of a bank, torched by a protestor at a time when London is in full riot over bankers dirty dealings. Tucked away in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) after running up horrendous expenses for bizarre and dubious acts of fact finding, are all the people hard to place, in the hope that they will become redundant for any crimes to be solved by real modern detectives. Bryant and his long suffering partner May appear to be ‘too long in the tooth’ to do any real detective work, but Bryant can always find a real crime out of an incident to be cleared up.
It is full of the wittiest pieces of writing found anywhere.
In a memo to all staff, Land his boss again writes:
I don’t want anyone here thinking for themselves.
But remember this: we are in charge of London.
I love that this is a very British book, quirky and full of the history of London, wonderful stuff!
There is a real sense of serious policing underneath the humour along with the intrigue of gruesome murders continuing along with the build up of London’s riots. Then, Bryant has memory lapses and is often lost in his own head which remarkably sees connections before they have even been thought of. Seen as a liability by his seniors, and just odd by his colleagues they know he will solve a case if there is one to be solved.
What did I like best about this book?
I like that Fowler knows London and has captured its essence. He understands the peculiarity of Britishness and uses it with humour. His writing is knowledgeable, it is tense and relaxed at the same time. When Bryant becomes bewildered Fowler gives the reader the same sense with much compassion, which adds to the story rather than distracts from it.
The crime is complex and not easily guessed, just as the team is baffled I was too, especially as there are so many leads in different directions. The murders are suitably nasty for London, with just enough detail to be able to imagine the horrors of them. There is a time constraint for solving the crime and also the risk of having the CPU closed down if they don’t.
The best for me were the many characters in the book. Each one different and I think I have come across them somewhere, sometime!
Bryant is a legend as you read him, even his team quote him constantly. For me the most poignant line is about Bryant’s own thoughts of his memory lapses, and confusion of not recognising his home:
…because whatever else happened, losing his place in the world was the thing that terrified him most.
The importance of Bryant’s character is that he may have Alzheimer’s or something similar, and Fowler has showed that even with lapses, his intelligence and his personality is strong enough for him to still be useful. Well done Christopher Fowler.
I loved the conversation in the taxi when a cabbie interrupts Bryant that it was European Parliament Health and Safety that stopped children making a guy and collecting money in the streets,..
…..’I think you’ll find that the truth is somewhat more prosaic’, said Bryant, ever the enemy of misinformation. ‘With the retail ascendency of Halloween, children’s spending power is used up before Guy Fawkes Night...
In fact I had hi-lighted so many brilliant lines I could not decide which to show you.
What did I not like?
This is the 12th in the series and I have not yet read the first 11!!!
Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book for an honest review..