The Memory of Blood
The defenestration of a ruthless theatre impresario's young son was definitely not the best way to end the play's first night party. And the crime scene itself was most unusual: a locked bedroom, with no sign of forced entry, no prints or traces of blood, just a sinister, life-size puppet of Mr Punch lying on the floor...
Everyone at the party - from the dodgy producer and rakish male lead to the dour set designer and the assistant stage manager (the wild daughter of a prominent civil servant) - is a suspect.
It's a perfect case for Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit but the Home Office, wary of the PCU's eccentric methods and intensely aware of the potential political embarrassment, wants them off the investigation.
The elderly detectives are not so easily deterred, however. Delving into the history of London theatre and the gruesome origins of 'Punch and Judy', they uncover a maniacal killer is at work - one who must be caught before it's curtains for everyone.
Reviewed on 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.