Summary and book reviews of The Water Room by Christopher Fowler

The Water Room

The Second Bryant & May Mystery

By Christopher Fowler

The Water Room
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Jun 2005,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2006,
    512 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

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" causes–from 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.

1

A CHANGE IN THE WEATHER

 

Arthur Bryant looked out over London and remembered.

Fierce sunlight swathed Tower Bridge beyond the rockeries of smouldering bomb-sites. A Thames sailing barge was arriving in the Pool of London with a cargo of palm kernels. Its dusty red sails sagged in the afternoon heat as it drifted past Broadway Dock at Limehouse, like a felucca on the Nile. Dairy horses trotted along the deserted Embankment, empty milk cans chiming behind them. Children swam from the wharves below St Paul's, while carping mothers fanned away stale air from the river steps. He could smell horse dung and tobacco, meadow grass, the river. The world had once moved forward in single paces.

The vision wavered and vanished, displaced by sun-flares from the sealed glass corridors of the new city.

...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews
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.

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Reader Reviews
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

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 detectives' names?
...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Water Room, try these:

  • All The Flowers Are Dying jacket

    All The Flowers Are Dying

    by Lawrence Block

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    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.

  • Death In Holy Orders jacket

    Death In Holy Orders

    by P.D. James

    Published Feb 2013

    More about this book

    Read Reviews

    Dalgliesh agrees to investigate a death at a theological college. No sooner does he arrive than the college is torn apart by a sacrilegious and horrifying murder, and Dalgliesh finds himself drawn into the labyrinth of an intricate and violent mystery.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  166The City:
    Dean Koontz

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.