Summary and book reviews of Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

Ten Second Staircase

Bryant & May Mysteries

By Christopher Fowler

Ten Second Staircase
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Jun 2006,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: Jan 2007,
    496 pages.

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Book Summary

It’s a crime tailor-made for the Peculiar Crimes Unit: a controversial artist is murdered and displayed as part of her own outrageous installation. No suspects, no motive, no evidence – it’s business as usual for the Unit’s cantankerous founding partners, Arthur Bryant and John May. But this time they have an eyewitness. According to twelve-year-old Luke Tripp, the killer was a cape-clad highwayman atop a black stallion.

As implausible as the boy’s story sounds, Bryant and May take it seriously when “The Highwayman” is spotted again, striking a dramatic pose at the scene of his next outlandish murder. Whatever the killer’s real identity, he seems intent on killing off a string of minor celebrities while becoming one himself.

As the tabloids look to make a quick bundle on “Highwayman Fever,” Bryant and May, along with the newest member of the Unit, May’s agoraphobic granddaughter, April, find themselves sorting out a case involving an unlikely combination of artistic rivalries, sleazy sex affairs, the Knights Templars, and street gang feuds. To do it, they’re going to have to use every orthodox–and unorthodox–means at their disposal, including myth, witchcraft, and the psychogeographic history of the city’s “monsters,” past and present.

And if one unsolvable crime weren’t enough, this case has disturbing links to a decades-old killing spree that nearly destroyed the partnership of Bryant and May once before…and may again. The Peculiar Crimes Unit is one murder away from being closed down for good–and that murder could be their own.

1
CRADLE TO GRAVE


MEMORANDUM
PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL


Attachments Supplied: 3458SD, 19904KT

To: Leslie Faraday, Senior Home Office Liaison Officer
From: Raymond Land, Acting Head, PCU, London NW1 3BL
Date: Monday, 17 October

Dear Mr Faraday,
Thank you for your correspondence of 26 September requesting further details concerning my tenure at the North London Peculiar Crimes Unit.

If I understand you correctly, you wish me to outline the recent problems I have experienced at this unit from a personal perspective. While I am loath to commit myself in writing over such a delicate matter, and dislike 'telling tales' on staff members despite their extreme lack of co-operation over the last few months, I feel the time has come to unburden myself to someone in a position of greater authority. In short, Mr Faraday, I can no longer maintain my silence. I have simply reached the end of my tether.

I appreciate that, as the 'new broom' at HO Special ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

This is Fowler's 14th book and his fourth in the Bryant and May series that started with Full Dark House (2003); followed by The Water Room (2004) and Seventy-Seven Clocks (2005) which some reviewers felt was a little disappointing. However, all agree that he is definitely back on form with Ten Second Staircase, with some saying that it is his best yet.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Far superior to the author's best earlier work, this fine effort places Fowler in the first rank of contemporary mystery writers and whets the appetite for the next Bryant and May case.

Library Journal

Fowler offers a distinctive prose style and characters so unusual that it is difficult to think of another author's work this creative...for readers who enjoy a bit of the bizarre in their mysteries.

Kirkus Reviews

Fowler has a glorious command of language...and has the most fertile conversational patter of anyone ....how many locked-room puzzles can the duo unlock before their Peculiar Crimes unit is disbanded? Many more, one hopes.

The New York Times - Marilyn Stasio

Fowler is in exuberant form here.

Booklist

Starred Review. This fourth Bryant and May novel delivers a delirious blend of black humor and suspense—recommend it to readers looking for something different in an English procedural.

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Beyond the Book

Fowler lives and works in Soho, London, where he runs The Creative Partnership, a movie marketing company that produces TV and radio scripts, documentaries, trailers and promos. He spends half the day with his company and half writing.

Sadly, The Peculiar Crimes unit does not exist in reality, but it does make for a great fictional concept.  Another great fictional police department that you may not have come across but is well worth looking out for is UCOS (Unsolved Crime and Open Case Squad) from the BBC TV New Tricks series.  If you love detective series starring belligerent old chaps such as Bryant and May, then you're sure to fall for the team at UCOS - we catch the series on Friday nights on our ...

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