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The matchless team of Inspectors Bryant and May investigate a series of macabre murders against the eerie urban chaos of London during the Blitz.
Christopher Fowler is co-founder and co-creative director of Creative Partnership. He also writes novels, screenplays and short story collections, and has had over twenty books published to date. His story The Master Builder was a CBS movie starring Tippi Hendren. Another, Left Hand Drive, won Best British Short Film in 1993. Others have been published in Time Out, The Big Issue, the Independent On Sunday and the Mail On Sunday. He was the 1998 recipient of the BFS Best Short Story Of The Year for Wageslaves. is first novel, the bestseller Roofworld, has been developed as a film for producer Marc Samuelson. Subsequent novels include Darkest Day, Spanky, Psychoville (film rights owned by Jude Law and Sadie Frost), Soho Black, Calabash and the two Bryant & May mysteries, Full Dark House and The Water Room.
Adult/High School-This mystery features the impending retirement of a Scotland Yard detective and the death of another. When Arthur Bryant is apparently blown up, his erstwhile partner, John May, begins reflecting on their first case together more than 60 years earlier. May, a raw recruit of 19, and Bryant, a 23-year-old detective, became the core of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, created to handle cases that were too important to ignore, yet that somehow seemed disproportionately insignificant in the face of the hundreds of civilians killed each night during the Blitz. Both men had been hurried through training and were suddenly faced with the strange case of the Palace Phantom, a killer victimizing the cast in an elaborate production of Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld. May was both intrigued by and dismayed at Bryant's methods and seeming flights of fancy. He used everything from crime-scene forensics to spiritualists to help him build his case. Fowler skillfully shifts the action between 1940 and the 21st century, building suspense and growing awareness as each case comes to its respective climax. Not surprisingly, they are connected. The details of wartime London and the destruction and deprivation of daily life are vividly conveyed. Today's teens will identify with the young lives so drastically affected by the war while following the clues, and red herrings, to a satisfactory conclusion.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, Chantilly, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
When octogenarian detective Arthur Bryant is killed in an explosion at the headquarters of the North London Peculiar Crimes Unit (think The X-Files), his equally aged partner. John May, must reexamine their very first case in order to solve the crime. London in 1940 is under siege from German bombs, but in the theater the show must go on even when a serial killer is dispatching the cast members of Orpheus in the Underworld with gruesome panache. Combining Bryant's unorthodox methods (consulting psychics) with May's more traditional police training, the duo eventually uncover the murderer. Could it be possible that the killer has returned 60 years later to wreak revenge? Despite a contrived, predictable ending, this darkly atmospheric first mystery introduces two most unusual detectives and nicely sets the Grand Guignol terror of a Phantom of the Opera-like plot against the dramatic backdrop of a city devastated by war. Fowler, who writes tales of urban horror (The Devil in Me), lives in London.-Wilda Williams, Library Journal Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
It's no surprise to find plenty of gothic touches in British author Fowler's debut mystery, the first in a series, given the renown of his horror fiction (Rune, etc.). When 80-year-old police detective Arthur Bryant gets blown up in an explosion at the North London Peculiar Crimes Unit headquarters, his longtime partner, John May, investigates his death. After some long, lecturing dialogue and an early chapter told from the viewpoint of a character who turns out to be of no consequence, the author reaches the core of his story-a flashback to the duo's first case during the London Blitz. In late 1940, the Palace Theatre is staging a production of Orpheus in the Underworld when the body of a dancer is found, sans feet. From this point forward, the intrigues of the theater murders, which decimate the cast, create considerable drama. The potency of Greek myth, conjured up by the opera being staged, is skillfully played out in the detectives' theories about the killer. The dynamic between May and Bryant makes for compelling reading, while the hubris of a police underling, Sidney Biddle, provides additional tension. Both past and present plots reach satisfying resolutions. Now that Fowler has set the stage, no doubt his second Bryant and May mystery will get off to a better start. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (June 1) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
"A bizarre dark comedy of an investigation... bawdy, unpredictable and at times hilarious, with a cast of wonderful grotesques" * Guardian * "As filled with tricks and sleights of hand as a magician's sleeve... witty, charismatic, occasionally touching and with a genuine power to thrill" -- Joanne Harris "Fowler shocks and frightens while making us laugh out loud. An original, erudite and exciting whodunnit" * Good Book Guide * "An evocatively reverential tribute to the genre...the clash of temperaments between Bryant and May makes them great detectives" * Time Out * "The writing is as ever fluid and pacey, the characterisation deft and the plot fresh and ingenious" * Independent on Sunday *