Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Required Reading: BRYANT & MAY ON THE LOOSE by Christopher Fowler

Hallelujah! Bryant & May are back!

When last we saw them, the Peculiar Crimes Unit was in disarray, having been disbanded by the Powers That Be. But one of the team, trying to find a new job, stumbles on a headless body. Normally, that's nothing too spectacular, but it's in the middle of the King's Cross redevelopment project, and therefore a bit politically sensitive. Add to that appearances of a stag-headed man with metal antlers who spooks the Eastern European workmen and harasses clubgoing chicks, and the PCU is called back into action, operating out of rented digs (a suite of offices with a dark secret, it turns out) and delving into the mystery.

It's a welcome return to form, because the mystery here really delves into one of Fowler's great strengths: his passion for London's urban landscape and its history. It drips from the pages, with that slight aroma of city ditches that may turn off some but appeal to others. It ranges from modern office buildings to crumbling churches, and is rife with long-hidden secrets and forgotten passages that lead...somewhere?

A new twist is that Fowler adds a new element, a supremely nasty villain who's a worthy adversary for the PCU. Mr. Fox, as he's known, is smart, observant, and just insane enough to make him dangerous and unpredictable. In many ways, he's the dark reflection of Bryant & May. He's probably the nastiest villain the pair have faced and his observations on the situation make for excellent reading.

It's an amazing amount of fun, a good rip-roaring read and a welcome return to the PCU. And there's more on the way!

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