They are detection's oddest couple: two cranky detectives whose professional
partnership dates back half a century. Now Arthur Bryant and John May return in
a case of multiple murder that twists through a subterranean course of the
secrets, lies, and extreme passions that drive even ordinary men and women to
the most shocking crimes .
They are living legends with a reputation for solving even the trickiest cases
using unorthodox, unconventional, and often completely unauthorized methods. But
the Peculiar Crimes Unit headed by Detectives John May and Arthur Bryant is one
mistake away from being shut down for good. And when the elderly sister of
Bryant's friend is found dead in the basement of her decrepit house in Kentish
Town, they find themselves on the verge of making exactly that mistake.
According to the coroner, Ruth Singh's heart simply stopped beating. But why was
a woman who rarely left the house fully dressed for an outing? And why was there
river water in her throat? Convinced that the old lady didn't die a natural
death, the detectives delve into a murky case with no apparent motive, no
forensics, and no clues. And they've barely launched their investigation when
death claims another victim. Suddenly they discover some very unnatural behavior
surrounding Ruth Singh's death by "natural" causesfrom shady real estate
developers and racist threats to two troubled marriages, from a dodgy
academician working London's notorious "grey economy" to a network of
antiquities collectors obsessed with Egyptian mythology. And running beneath it
all are the sweeping tentacles of London's vast and forgotten underground river
system. As the rains pour down and the water rises, Bryant and May must rely on
instinct, experience, and their own very peculiar methods to stem a tide of evil
that threatens to drown them all.
The New York Times - Marilyn Stasio
The plot isn't designed to make sense but to draw us into an imaginative funhouse of a world where sage minds go to expand their vistas and sharpen their wits.
Fowler's tale - humorous, engaging, at times incoherent - inundates readers with historical details, myths, subplots, and maps and then tacks on a denouement that seems to belong to a separate novel.
Starred Review. Traditional mystery buffs with a taste for the offbeat will relish British author Fowler's wonderful second contemporary whodunit featuring the Peculiar Crimes Unit and its elderly odd couple.
Booklist - David Pitt
Britain's Fowler seems to be one of those multitalented types who can write anything and do it well.....the real thrill here is the delightful duo in the starring roles, two fresh and unusual characters who manage to breathe new life into an established genre in which it's getting harder and harder to find anything genuinely fresh.
Trivia: Bryant & May matches have been a household
name in Britain from the 1860s until the present. The
oldest surviving animated film is an advertisement for
Bryant & May matches from 1899 asking the audience to
donate one guinea so that the company can give a free
box of matches to every British soldier fighting in the
Boer War! Considering Fowler's background in the
film industry I wonder if this little piece of
silver-screen trivia influenced his choice of
The suspense is breathtaking, the outcome never certain. A series that has garnered no end of awards -- the Edgar, the Shamus, the Philip Marlowe, the Maltese Falcon -- has ascended to a dizzying new height.
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