Christopher Fowler - Shastrix Books

Christopher Fowler

Recently reviewed

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.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
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.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled Star
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.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
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.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UK
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.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UK
On the Loose

On the Loose

Christopher Fowler

7th September 2017

The seventh novel about the Peculiar Crimes Unit opens with the interesting twist of the unit being disbanded and its staff sent on their merry way. This is of course followed by the discovery of a peculiar crime, and the investigation is off.

Like many of the previous novels, the interesting content is not so much the plot or investigation, but the details that it uncovers about London, specifically in this case Kings Cross, and its history, as well as the interaction between the characters, which has both a comedic and a slightly dark edge.

I'm still not entirely sure I've got a grip on what the series is meant to be about. But I don't think it really matter as it keeps me entertained and wanting to pick up the next book.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
Buy book: UK
The Victoria Vanishes

The Victoria Vanishes

Christopher Fowler

20th December 2016

The sixth Bryant and May novel follows on very swiftly from the fifth, beginning at a wake. Stumbling home, Bryant has an unusual encounter that kicks off one of the most bizarre and puzzling investigations the Peculiar Crimes Unit has faced.

It's an absolutely fascinating plot that certainly makes for one of the best entries in the series. There's one moment that felt a bit unfair to the reader trying to follow along, but the balance of comedy, tragedy, action and mystery is perfect.

One of the things I've just noticed that I'm enjoying in this series is the rotation of character focus. While the whole series is of course about the two title characters, the secondary cast seem to be taking turns under the spotlight to examine their lives and motivations.

Another great story that makes me really glad that I continued reading, and that there are lots more of them lined up ready on my shelf.

read more

Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star

Other reviewed books

White Corridor
Ten Second Staircase
Seventy-Seven Clocks
The Water Room
Full Dark House

Unreviewed books

Psychoville
The Burning Man

Top books

  1. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled Star
  2. The Invisible Code
  3. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  4. Seventy-Seven Clocks
  5. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  6. Ten Second Staircase
  7. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  8. Full Dark House
  9. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  10. On the Loose
  11. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  12. White Corridor
  13. Filled StarFilled StarFilled StarFilled StarEmpty Star
  14. The Sand Men