This eleventh book in Christopher Fowler’s series about the Peculiar Crimes Unit is as enjoyable as any of the earlier volumes. The two (very) elderly eponymous detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, are back along with their regular supporting cast.
This time they set off to investigate an apparent case of a dead man rising from his grave and the disappearance of the ravens from the Tower of London. As ever with Fowler’s novels, there is a very strong London background to them, with both its geography and its history heavily featuring in the plot.
The Bleeding Heart continues the evolution of Arthur Bryant into a more conventionally eccentric character. In some previous novels he seemed to have mystical-like qualities – especially with the IT errors his presence could produce – and he also took magic and mysticism seriously. This time out his eccentricities require no supernatural abilities and he is becoming nearly as sceptical of the witches and assorted others as his long-standing partner John May always has been.
The plot twists and humour are a joy as ever, even if the caricature of modern management speak – Orion Banks, newly given responsibility for the Peculiar Crime Unit – is little different from 1,001 other similar caricatures. Bryant, May and the rest, however, are very much something out of the ordinary and their characters continue to develop in interesting ways. Although the book can be read free-standing, it is best read in sequence therefore to fully appreciate the character development and some of the cross-references.
Tim Goodman, once again, does wonders with the audio book version. He’s a brilliant narrator.
If you like this, you might also be interested in the first Bryant & May novel, Seventy-Seven Clocks. It’s a case of James Bond crossed with Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allan Poe.
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