I’ve never met Christopher Fowler in person, although we share an agent, and whilst I’ve read and enjoyed his short fiction in the past, I’ve been slow in catching up with his successful series about Bryant and May, from the Peculiar Crimes Unit. I’ve just finished the sixth book in that series, The Victoria Vanishes, and I must say I found it immensely enjoyable – one of the most entertaining books I’ve read in a long time.
This is a book packed with good things. For instance, there is a very nice ‘impossible’ puzzle, which features almost incidentally in the story-line. How is it that Arthur Bryant, after a few drinks, should have seen a woman coming out of a pub that no longer exists?
The main plot concerns a series of killings of middle-aged women in London’s public houses. The mystery is splendidly contrived, and although the solution is a little far-fetched, that matters not. The twists and turns make the hunt for the culprit a very satisfactory one.
But above all, what I liked about the book was the quality of the writing, and in particular its humour, which was very much on my wavelength. The style blends nostalgia with a sharply contemporary eye on the nature of modern society. And there are lots of wonderful lines. As well as a cat called Crippen. What more could anyone want?
One thing is for sure. I shall be reading more Bryant and May books.