Back in November I reviewed Christopher Fowler’s collection of Bryant & May short stories and finished with my usual complaint. If I keep finding all these wonderful authors and series when am I ever going to find the time to read them all? I’ve been reading about time machines recently – if I ever manage to find a foolproof blueprint for one that should solve my problems: in the meantime I’m going for my tried and tested method of ignoring housework, gardening and phone calls…
Anyway, since I enjoyed the company of these grumpy old detectives and their assorted colleagues so much I decided that I should read their latest adventures when they were offered up on Netgalley. And, luckily, my second outing with Bryant & May was as rewarding as the first.
The plot involves illegal immigrants, various new age therapies and the fear of alzheimers. And, of course, some seemingly random crimes which can only be solved by Arthur Bryant’s unorthodox methods. Unfortunately Bryant seems to be losing his grip on reality and the whole unit looks to be in danger of closing down. Obviously I don’t want to give any spoliers but, suffice it to say, the ending was satisfyingly quirky.
My main thought about this book is that London itself is a major character. There is a new, thrustingly modern, city superimposed over a series of older ones and the Thames is the thread that ties them all together. For hardened Londoners the details of these parallel cities are almost invisible – either that or they have proprietorial sense of ownership of all the quirky places, even if they never visit the places in question. For other Britons the city is a source of endless fascination: for a Syrian immigrant it can seem bloated and crass.