Excerpt of Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler
(Page 4 of 4)
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Which is why I would like to recommend a psychiatric evaluation report on the
pair of them. If their incompetence can be officially proven (something I very
much suspect to be the case), then I will finally be able to replace them with
younger, more technologically literate unit supervisors. Mr Bryant's and Mr
May's consistent refusal of promotion is a ruse that has allowed them to operate
'hands on' as detectives through most of their cases. An evaluation could
perhaps recommend they be transferred to positions of part-time consultancy,
where they would not come into direct contact with criminal investigations, and
would only have powers in a reduced advisory capacity. Mr Bryant refers to
himself as a 'cradle-to-grave' law officer; in short, I think it is time he
headed for his grave.
For some unearthly reason, both Mr Bryant and Mr May command an almost fanatical
loyalty among the rest of the PCU staff. Therefore, I am sure you appreciate the
need for absolute discretion in this matter.
Acting Temporary Head of the Peculiar Crimes Unit
'I hope you're not going to be rude and upset everyone again.'
Detective Sergeant Janice Longbright examined her boss for signs of disarray.
She scraped some egg from his creased green tie with a crimson nail, and
grudgingly granted her approval.
Arthur Bryant took a deep breath and folded his notes back into his jacket. 'I
see nothing wrong with speaking my mind. After all, it is a special occasion.'
He fixed his DS with a beady, unforgiving eye. 'I rarely get invited to make
speeches. People always think I'm going to be insulting. I've never upset anyone
'Perhaps I could remind you of the mayor's banquet at Mansion House? You told
the assembly he had herpes.'
'I said he had a hairpiece. It was a misquote.'
'Well, just remember how overwrought you can get at these events. Did you
remember to take your blue pills?' Longbright suspected he had forgotten them
because the tablet box was still poking out of his top pocket. 'The doctor
warned you it would be easy to muddle them up--'
'I don't need a nurse, thank you. I'll take them afterwards. I haven't quite
drifted into senility yet.' Unlike most men, Bryant did not look smarter in a
suit. His outfit was several decades out of date and too long in the leg. His
shirt collar was far wider than his neck, and the white nimbus of his hair
floated up around his prominent ears as though he had been conducting
experiments in electricity. Overall, he looked like a soon-to-be-pulped
Excerpted from Ten Second Staircase by
Christopher Fowler Copyright © 2006 by Christopher Fowler. Excerpted by
permission of Bantam, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No
part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in
writing from the publisher.