Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 8 October 2012

Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler

This is the first book in a splendidly offbeat, quirky and satisfying crime series. I am envious of anyone coming new to it!

In this story the reader is introduced to Arthur Bryant and John May in their youth, and also in old age as the story has two timelines. Bryant and May first meet in 1940, at the height of the blitz, when Bryant is 22 and May 19, and a new police department is being set up, the PCU (Peculiar Crimes Unit) to handle crimes that it is felt cannot be handled by regular and overworked police departments. For different reasons, neither is eligible for military service. Both, but especially Bryant, are eccentric and following strict police procedure is foreign to both of them.

They find themselves handling a case where a beautiful dancer is found in the theatre where she was performing in Orpheus in the Underworld dead and minus her feet. The case escalates and there is considerable mayhem before the dauntless two find the answer.

The story line alternates between 1940 and sixty years on, when Bryant and May, the former in the flower of his eccentricity, are still working (much to the distress of the government and their police superiors), causing havoc and solving strange cases. At the start of the book Bryant is thought to be dead in an explosion that wrecked their headquarters, which causes May to look back on their first case together.

What makes this book, and this series, special is the warmth, the humour, the unforgettable characters and, not least, the wonderful feel of London and its history, all woven into an extremely readable and exciting whole.

Reviewed by Penny Waugh

Guest reviewer Penny Waugh has kindly reviewed this novel for The Little Reader Library - huge thanks to Penny for this lovely review and for telling us about this novel and about the Bryant and May series as a whole too. Penny is a very keen reader whose reviews I always enjoy reading, and she is part of the ReadItSwapIt website.

Published by Doubleday

You can visit the author's site here and follow him on twitter @Peculiar

Thanks to Lynsey at Transworld for sending me a copy of this novel.

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