Christopher Fowler - Shastrix Books

Christopher Fowler

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London's Glory

London's Glory

Christopher Fowler

23rd April 2023

Rather than a novel, this books is a collection of short stories about smaller cases which eternally elderly detectives Bryant & May have encountered through the decades.

Individually, the stories capture the essence of the characters and their investigations. Collectively though I felt like they lacked something that I usually appreciate about this series, and I don’t think for me that the short format works so well.

I did appreciate the commentary running throughout the book though from the author, adding notes about the inspiration behind each of the stories, and some of the background to his writing of the novels that have come before.

Really though I’m ready to go back to the longer stories, and have bought the next four novels to sit on the shelf ready.

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The Burning Man

The Burning Man

Christopher Fowler

1st August 2022

I never know quite what I’m going to get from a Christopher Fowler novel. There’s a sense in my mind that he can write really good horror and really good comedy - and that the Bryant & May series moves around both those spaces.

This feels one of the darker B&M novels, with some brutal scenes throughout as the protagonist works through their scheme and our heroes attempt to work out what’s happening.

The character moments also feel emotionally down in this novel, with age clearly catching up with them, and expectations of the world not aligning with their wants.

It is another good mystery, but I think the overall tone is a bit bleaker than I prefer, and I hope that the subsequent novels might resume that slightly more jolly feel.

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The Bleeding Heart

The Bleeding Heart

Christopher Fowler

31st July 2021

Book I-Don't-Know-I've-Lost-Count in the Bryant and May series brings a slight lightening of tone - with the plot focus a bit more mysterious and slightly less brutal, and the increasingly rich world take a turn for the mildly amusing and less perilous.

I enjoyed playing along he whodunnit game, and seeing particularly this time into Bryant's psyche as the plot starts to explore elements from his distant past.

Another good entry in the series, but one that having completed is now going to force me out to the bookshops to find the next book.

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The Invisible Code

The Invisible Code

Christopher Fowler

13th September 2020

Back to a series I really enjoy reading. Surprisingly elderly detectives Bryant and May call themselves in to investigate some not-obviously-suspicious deaths in the City of London, which as usual leads to a complex set of not-quite paranormal clues leading them and their team on a chase around the city.

There are some fantastic standout passages in this novel - I’ve taken to photographing my favourite passages from books I’m reading so that I can go back and read those bits again and again to cheer myself up. Just little sentences or paragraphs that tickle me.

As usual, the plot is thoroughly thought-out, and the research into the quirks of London obvious. I really enjoy reading this series and have had to stop myself from diving back into the next novel too soon.

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The Sand Men

The Sand Men

Christopher Fowler

9th February 2020

This is the first of Fowler’s books I’ve read outside the Bryant and May series, and I was slightly trepidatious. The cover reminded me of a book I recently read by another author, which was desert-based urban fantasy, and which I didn’t get on with. However I needn’t have worried.

It’s the story of a family - father, mother, and daughter - whose lives change when they move from London to Dubai, as the father obtains a job on a massive construction project. But of course this wouldn’t be a story if everything was as it seems.

There’s a familiar feel to the opening - a slight hint of dark fantasy that in the light of day becomes human agency. A mystery and paranoia, and a sense that you aren’t quite sure who to believe - particularly in this case as the narrative is very focussed on one viewpoint, with just hints that the other characters have quite interesting lives going on in parallel.

I felt the plot became more rushed as it went on, but that may be reflective of my variable reading pace. There was also a large chunk of narrative that confused me, and left me not knowing exactly what I was meant to believe was happening. As a result I’m not sure I felt the conclusion was satisfactory.

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The Memory of Blood

The Memory of Blood

Christopher Fowler

19th May 2019

Book nine for Bryant and May takes a different route than the one I had expected. The previous two novels having formed a mini-series, I was expecting this to form part three of the trilogy, but I was wrong and it stands alone.

The crime seems rather more brutal than those of previous novels, and somewhat more of the classic locked room mystery, just with the usual peculiar crime aspects bundled in - such as the apparent only suspect being a puppet of Mr Punch.

Somewhat confusingly, this isn’t the only paranormal crime novel set in London featuring Mr Punch that I’ve read this year, and I did find I needed to remind myself every so often which bits of plot belonged to which book.

It’s a good mystery though, and continues to explore the characters who work with the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and I look forward to continuing adventuring with them.

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Off the Rails

Off the Rails

Christopher Fowler

7th July 2018

Bryant & May’s eighth adventure takes an interesting twist on the series, being the first novel that is a direct sequel to the preceding one. The continuing case of The Fox, who having escaped custody appears to have begun a new killing spree, and the detectives are once again given an absurdly short deadline to complete the case or be shut down.

While it’s a good mystery story, I felt that this one had lost a little of what earlier novels had. The crimes aren’t particularly peculiar in their nature - they are fairly ordinary as crimes go - and the character developments that have been at the forefront of previous stories seem to have been back-burnered in favour of plot.

The narrative is however quite amusing, in a relaxed way. There are a few in jokes, at the author and characters’ expense, as well as a number of moments of humour and particularly strong and witty dialogue. This I think was what held the book together and made me race through the pages, rather than anything with the plot itself.

A good mystery overall, with some interesting twists and turns, and a satisfying resolution.

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Other reviewed books

On the Loose
The Victoria Vanishes
White Corridor
Ten Second Staircase
Seventy-Seven Clocks
The Water Room
Full Dark House

Unreviewed books

Hall of Mirrors
Psychoville
Strange Tide
The Lonely Hour
Wild Chamber

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