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.
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.
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
If you liked The Water Room, try these:
When she's not digging up bones or other ancient objects, quirky, tart-tongued archaeologist Ruth Galloway lives happily alone in Norfolk. But when a child's bones are found on a desolate beach nearby, and Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls Galloway for help, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory - and in serious danger.
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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From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary
The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.
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