Christopher Fowler's memoir captures life in suburban London as it has rarely been seen: through the eyes of a lonely boy who spends his days between the library and the cinema, devouring novels, comics, cereal packets - anything that might reveal a story.
Caught between an ever-sensible but exhausted mother and a DIY-obsessed father fighting his own demons, Christopher takes refuge in words. His parents try to understand their son's peculiar obsessions, but fast lose patience with him - and each other. The war of nerves escalates to include every member of the Fowler family, and something has to give, but does it mean that a boy must always give up his dreams for the tough lessons of real life?
Beautifully written, this rich and astute evocation of a time and a place recalls a childhood at once entertainingly eccentric and endearingly ordinary.
Long regarded an anachronism and a thorn in the side of its superiors, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is to be disbanded. For octogenarian detectives Arthur Bryant and John May, it seems retirement is now the only option. But then a headless body is found in a freezer, and on the perimeter of a massive construction site near King's Cross, a gigantic figure has been spotted - dressed in deerskin and sporting antlers made of knives and suddenly, with limited resources and very little time, the PCU are back in business...
'The newspapers referred to it as the case of the seventy-seven clocks. There was quite a fuss at the time. We got into terrible trouble. Dear fellow, it was one of our most truly peculiar cases. I remember as if it was yesterday.' In fact, Arthur Bryant remembers very little about yesterday, but he does remember the oddest investigation of his career...
It was late in 1973. As strikes and blackouts ravaged the country during Edward Heath's 'Winter of Discontent', sundry members of a wealthy, aristocratic family were being disposed of in a variety of grotesque ways - by reptile, by bomb, by haircut. As the hours of daylight diminish towards Christmas, Bryant & May, the irascible detectives of London's controversial Peculiar Crimes Unit, know that time is the key - and time is running out for both the family and the police. Their investigations lead them into a hidden world of class conflict, craftsmanship and the secret loyalties of big business. But what have seventy seven ticking clocks to do with it?
Now the full story can at last be revealed, in this most eerie of adventures that features Arthur Bryant at his rudest, John May at his most exasperated and a gallery of colourful, bizarre characters who could only make their home in a city like London...
Originally built to house the workers of Victorian London, Balaklava Street is now an oasis in the heart of Kentish Town and ripe for gentrification. But then the body of an elderly woman is found at Number 5. Her death would appear to have been peaceful but for the fact that her throat is full of river water. It falls to the Met's Peculiar Crimes Unit, led by London's longest-serving detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, to search for something resembling a logical solution.
Their initial investigations draw a blank and Bryant's attention is diverted into strange and arcane new territory, while May finds himself in hot water when he attempts to save the reputation of an academic whose knowledge of the city's forgotten underground rivers looks set to ruin his career. In the meantime, the new owner of Number 5 is increasingly unsettled by the damp in the basement of her home, the particularly resilient spiders and the ghostly sound of rushing water . . .
Pooling their information to investigate hitherto undiscovered secrets of the city, Bryant and May make some sinister connections and realize that, in a London filled with the rich, the poor and the dispossessed, there's still something a desperate individual is willing to kill for - and kill again to protect. With the PCU facing an uncertain future, the death toll mounts and two of British fiction's most enigmatic detectives must face madness, greed and revenge, armed only with their wits, their own idiosyncratic practices and a plentiful supply of boiled sweets, in a wickedly sinuous mystery that goes to the heart of every London home.
One night, Arthur Bryant witnesses a drunk middle-aged lady coming out of a pub in a London backstreet. The next morning, she is found dead at the exact spot where their paths crossed. Even more disturbing, the pub has vanished. Bryant is convinced that he saw them as they were over a century before, but the elderly detective has already lost the funeral urn of an old friend. Could he be losing his mind as well?
Then it becomes clear that a number of women have met their ends in London pubs. It seems a silent, secret killer is at work, striking in full view...and yet nobody has a clue how, or why - or where he'll attack next. The likeliest suspect seems to be a mental patient with a reason for killing. But knowing who the killer is and catching him are two very different propositions.
As their new team at the Peculiar Crimes Unit goes in search of a madman, the octogenarian detectives ready themselves for the pub crawl of a lifetime, and come face to face with their own mortality...
When a bomb devastates the office of London's most unusual police unit and claims the life of its oldest detective, Arthur Bryant, his surviving partner John May searches for clues to the bomber's identity. His search takes him back to the day the detectives first met as young men in 1940.
In Blitz-ravaged London, a beautiful dancer rehearsing for a sexy, sinister production of 'Orpheus In The Underworld' is found without her feet. Bryant & May's investigation plunges them into a bizarre gothic mystery, where a faceless man stalks terrified actors and death strikes in darkness. Tracking their quarry through the blackout, searching for a murderer who'll stop at nothing to be free of a nightmare, the duo unwittingly follow the same path Orpheus took when leading Euridyce from the shadows of Hell.
Back in the present day, John May starts to wonder if their oldest adversary might be the killer who took his partner's life. He must work alone to solve a puzzle that began over half a century earlier...
In a war-shaken city of myths, rumours and fear, Bryant & May discover that a house is not always a home, nothing is as it appears, the most cunning criminals hide in plain sight, and the devil has all the best tunes. Dark drama and black comedy combine as Bryant & May take centre stage in their first great case.
They've been given just one week to find a killer they'd caught once before . . .
Arthur Bryant, John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit are on the trail of an enigma: a young man called Mr Fox. But his identity is false, his links to society are invisible and his home yields no clues. All they know is that somehow he escaped from a locked room and murdered one of their best and brightest.
Now the detectives are being lured down into the darkest recesses of the London Underground where their quarry, expertly disguised, has struck again. Their search takes them into the vast labyrinth of tunnels, a subterranean world full of legends and ghost stations, which tie the city together. Edging closer to what lies hidden beneath the city - and to the madness that is driving a man to murder - Bryant and May are about to uncover a mystery as bizarre as anything they have ever encountered . . .
The unthinkable has happened at London's Peculiar Crimes Unit. In the bitter depths of winter, a member of the team has been murdered, and everyone who works there is a suspect. With the exception of Arthur Bryant and John May that is, for the eccentric detectives who run London's strangest crime division are stranded on a desolate snowbound road somewhere in the West Country on their way to a spiritualists' convention. As the snows worsen, Bryant & May attempt to solve the crime long distance. And their situation is about to get much. much worse. Unknown to the elderly detectives, an obsessed killer has travelled from the Riviera to Dartmoor, and is stalking the stranded vehicles, searching for one particular victim and edging ever closer with each passing minute...
Two murderers, two incapacitated detectives, just six hours to solve two crimes and save the unit. Armed only with their wits, woolly coats, a mobile phone with a fading battery and some dubious veal and ham pies, Bryant & May are bracing themselves for a strange and very dangerous day...
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!
Winner of CrimeFest 2013's 'eDunnit Award' for 'the best crime fiction ebook published in 2012 in both hardcopy and in electronic format'.
Two small children are playing a game called 'Witch-Hunter'. They place a curse on a young woman taking lunch in a church courtyard and wait for her to die. An hour later the woman is indeed found dead inside St Bride's Church - a building that no-one else has entered.
Unfortunately Bryant & May are refused the case. Instead, there are hired by their greatest enemy to find out why his wife has suddenly started behaving strangely. She's become an embarrassment to him at government dinners, and he is convinced that someone is trying to drive her insane. She has even taken to covering the mirrors in her apartment, and believes herself to be the victim of witchcraft.
Then a society photographer is stabbed to death in a nearby park and suddenly a link emerges between the two cases. And so begins an investigation that will test the members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit to their limits, setting Arthur Bryant off on a trail that leads to Bedlam and Bletchley Park, and into the world of madness, codes and the secret of London's strangest relic.
As the members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit dig behind the city's facades to expose a world of private clubs, hidden passages and covert loyalties, they realise that the case might not just end in disaster - it might also get everyone killed.
It's a fresh start for the Met's oddest investigation team, the Peculiar Crimes Unit.
Their first case involves two teenagers who see a dead man rising from his grave in a London park. And if that's not alarming enough, one of them is killed in a hit and run accident. Stranger still, in the moments between when he was last seen alive and found dead on the pavement, someone has changed his shirt...
Much to his frustration, Arthur Bryant is not allowed to investigate. Instead, he has been tasked with finding out how someone could have stolen the ravens from the Tower of London. All seven birds have vanished from one of the most secure fortresses in the city. And, as the legend has it, when the ravens leave, the nation falls.
Soon it seems death is all around and Bryant and May must confront a group of latter-day bodysnatchers, explore an eerie funeral parlour and unearth the gruesome legend of Bleeding Heart Yard. More graves are desecrated, further deaths occur, and the symbol of the Bleeding Heart seems to turn up everywhere - it's even discovered hidden in the PCU's offices. And when Bryant is blindfolded and taken to the headquarters of a secret society, he realises that this case is more complex than even he had imagined, and that everyone is hiding something. The Grim Reaper walks abroad and seems to be stalking him, playing on his fears of premature burial.
Rich in strange characters and steeped in London's true history, this is Bryant & May's most peculiar and disturbing case of all.
In every detective's life there are cases that can't be discussed, and throughout the Bryant & May novels there have been mentions of some of these such as the Deptford Demon or the Little Italy Whelk Smuggling Scandal. Now Arthur Bryant has decided to open the files on eleven of these previously unseen investigations that required the collective genius and unique modus operandi of Arthur Bryant and John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit - investigations that range from different times (London during the Great Smog) and a variety of places: a circus freak show, on board a London Tour Bus and even a yacht off the coast of Turkey. And in addition to these eleven classic cases, readers are also given a privileged look inside the Peculiar Crimes Unit (literally, with a cut away drawing of their offices), a guide to the characters of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and access to the contents of Arthur Bryant's highly individual library.
The river Thames is London's most important yet neglected artery. When a young woman is found chained to a post in the tide, no-one can understand how she came to be drowned there. At the Peculiar Crimes Unit, Arthur Bryant and John May find themselves dealing with an impossible crime committed in a very public place.
Soon they discover that the river is giving up other victims, but as the investigation extends from the coast of Libya to the nightclubs of North London, it proves as murkily sinister as the Thames itself. That's only part of the problem; Bryant's rapidly deteriorating condition prevents him from handling the case, and he is confined to home. To make matters worse, May makes a fatal error of judgement that knocks him out of action and places everyone at risk.
With the PCU staff baffled as much by their own detectives as the case, the only people who can help now are the battery of eccentrics Bryant keeps listed in his diary, but will their arcane knowledge save the day or make matters even worse? Soon there's a clear suspect in everyone's sights - the only thing that's missing is any scrap of evidence.
As the detectives' disastrous investigation comes unstuck, the whole team gets involved in some serious messing about on the river. In an adventure that's as twisting as the river upon which it's set, will there be anything left of the Peculiar Crimes Unit when it's over?
Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit are London’s craftiest and bravest detectives--and there’s no better pair to solve the city’s most confounding crimes. In this riveting eBook collection of mystery short stories, available together for the first time, Christopher Fowler takes Bryant and May on a series of twisting adventures and brings readers behind the scenes of his beloved novels.
Includes a preview of Christopher Fowler’s new Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery, Bryant & May and the Burning Man!
In “Bryant & May in the Field,” a woman is found with her throat slashed in a snowy park, yet the killer managed to escape without leaving any footprints. In “Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman,” a businessman drowns in the pool of a posh club, and the only suspect is a young woman who remains almost too calm during questioning. And in “Bryant & May Ahoy!” the pair go on holiday on a friend’s yacht in Turkey, but Bryant realizes there’s something fishy about their fellow passengers. From London’s grandest mansions to its darkest corners, from the Christmas department of Selfridges to a sinister traveling sideshow, there’s no scene too strange for the Peculiar Crimes Unit and the indefatigable detectives at its helm.
Praise for Christopher Fowler’s ingenious novels featuring the Peculiar Crimes Unit
“A brilliant series.”--The Denver Post
“Fowler, like his crime-solvers, is deadpan, sly, and always unexpectedly inventive.”--Entertainment Weekly
“Eclectic, eccentric and endlessly entertaining books.”--The Seattle Times
“Fowler’s small but ardent American following deserves to get much larger.”--Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“A rough mash-up of Law & Order, The X-Files, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus . . . These stories are witty, challenging, engrossing, informative and incredibly well-written.”--Bookreporter
“May and Bryant make a stellar team.”--The Wall Street Journal
“Fowler reinvents and reinvigorates the traditional police procedural.”--The Boston Globe
“Grumpy Old Men does CSI with a twist of Dickens! Bryant and May are hilarious. I love this series.”--#1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Marie Moning
Martyn Ross had a miserable life until he met Spanky, a tuxedoed chamer who's diabolically handsome, successful and ruthless. He's willing to share his wild world of wine, women and wealth - but at a price. And it has nothing to do with Martyn surrendering his soul.Quite the reverse...
You won't see them unless you know where to look... High above London's teeming streets exists a timeless universe with laws and codes known only to itself. Suspended in the skies by a complex system of cables and wires, two rival factions prepare to do battle for control of their world and the eventual manipulation of the city below...Welcome to Roofworld. Rose, a beautiful, feisty, amateur photographer - and Robert, a shy but cynical scriptwriter, witness a rooftop kidnapping by chance. And then they hear of strange rooftop murders that are being discovered almost daily - and they want to know more. But in their clumsy efforts to understand, they become caught up in an intense power struggle between honest seekers of another life and the consummate evil of a power-mad leader in control of society's hopeless. Together, Rose and Robert become inextricably caught up in a violent war among a nearly invisible people who could easily control the future of the world . . .
Welcome to Soho, London's creative square mile, a bedlam of business and backstabbing, where dreams are manufactured and office workers get off their faces. A place where being a celebrity means treating every day as your last.Movie executive, Richard Tyler, is strung out, stressed up and sinking fast. He owes money to film-freak thugs, thanks to debts stacked up by his card-charging girlfriend, who has been shagging his belligerent boss, who has just fired him.Could things get any worse?During one particularly hypertense evening Richard drops dead in the middle of a fashionable Soho bar. What happens next mortifies his friends and horrifies his enemies, as Richard's lifestyle of power-lunches and parties changes overnight into a fast-track trip into career hell...
After this city hits midnight, everyone becomes equal. That's when anything can happen.It's 2 am and Vincent Reynolds is running for his life through the stormswept London streets. He's discovered a secret and wants to tell the world - if he can stay alive until dawn.His adversary - an English gentleman obsessed with puzzles, playing his deadliest game. His allies - a motley crew of insomniacs, misfits and street people. His only hope - to discover the solutions to ten lethal challenges that will lead him, from dusk till daybreak, through the nightlife of a secret city hidden even to its inhabitants.
The cruel and heartless hand of the urban planner forced fourteen-year-old Billy March and his family to leave their home in the city and settle in the suburban new town of Invicta Cross. Initial prospects for a fresh start soon dashed, Billy watched as his family was destroyed by petty-minded and hostile neighbours. Though he managed to befriend a young girl as damaged as himself, he experienced pain that changed his life forever.Ten years later, as Invicta Cross is voted Britain's Favourite New Town, a smart young married couple move into the area. Glamorous and wealthy, they're instantly popular with the neighbours. Then the vicious pranks begin... As one neighbour after another goes missing, no one suspects that the perfect couple in Balmoral Close might know something more than they're telling. Then a suspicious reporter sets out to discover the truth.Psychoville is a suburban nightmare that delves behind the net curtains to reveal the truth about housewives, bloodstains and the damage you can inflict with a Morphy Richards iron.
John Chapel is a statistician's dream: he's twenty-nine, has a loving wife and son, a comfortable home, and a promising career. Then he meets the stunningly beautiful, mysterious Ixora, and his life starts to change disturbingly.He first sees her running across the rainswept steps of Waterloo Station. When they meet again, Ixora denies having been there. Odder still, John discovers her in a film containing exactly the same sequence. So begins a dreamlike relationship that escalates into a nightmare.Despite his good intentions, John finds himself embarking on a passionate affair. But violence and death track the ill-fated couple as John risks his home, his career and his life to save Ixora from a horrific destiny. Now the subject of a police investigation, he finds himself trapped in a vortex of spreading evil which may claim his very soul...First published in the early 90s, Red Bride confirmed Fowler's place at the vanguard of modern horror fiction.
Across London people are dying in apparently unconnected freak accidents. Further investigation reveals that secreted on some of the bodies are strips of paper carrying angular, indecipherable hieroglyphics: their meaning unknown.To his horror, advertising executive Harry Buckingham is linked with several of the victims. He is soon avoiding the police and following his own investigation. He discovers a multinational company combining sophisticated technology with ancient mythology. They call it confrontational marketing. Harry calls it pure evil.It seems that the Devil may be at large in the nation's capital . . . and only a handful of people can stop the most hostile takeover bid of all time.
Kay Goodwin is a sixteen-year-old boy with a smart mouth and too much imagination. Marooned in the rundown seaside resort of Cole Bay, his life is a horrible comedy of errors that has trapped him in the country's most dismal place at the worst possible time - the early seventies. He dreams of escaping the crumbling pier and the grumbling pensioners, of finding where he is appreciated, but it's the one thing he can't do. Until he discovers a faraway land with characters who are impossibly exotic, but strangely familiar. In the kingdom of Calabash he can have everything he's ever wanted from life. There's only one small problem. Calabash doesn't actually exist.In an England that's still hungover from the sixties, Kay finds it all too easy to retreat from reality. Everyone in Cole Bay expects him to conform, but Kay is prepared to risk everything to find out what makes him different, what his life really holds, and what will happen if he believes in the impossible...Christopher Fowler's warm-hearted, dryly comic novel takes place at the most painful point of growing up, when childhood dreams are abandoned for hard truths, and everyone gets one last chance to be free.
'Something had been released into the night streets. It moved unnoticed and sucked the life from people. It caused slow painful death, but even those who could sense its presence were too scared to admit it was there. And now, with quiet deliberation, it was heading for the street where I lived.' Red Hellion lives opposite the creepy, tightly locked Torrington Park, or 'Viper's Green'. Walking home from school one day he meets Max, who is trying to break in. Before he knows it, Red finds himself sucked into Max's plans to discover the whereabouts of his father, who disappeared weeks before under sinister circumstances connected with the park. But neither Max nor Red realize just how much their lives are at risk. Their investigations into the park are linked to the terrible the legend of Medusa, and are about to lead them into horrific danger...