Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood by Christopher Fowler
11 June, 2012
In the 9th outing for the intrepid sleuths, Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is sent to investigate the tragic death of baby Noah during a party to celebrate the opening of a new play, The Two Murderers. It seems to be a locked room mystery: the baby was alone, the door locked and no one was there except for a life-sized doll of Mr. Punch whose fingermarks appear on the baby’s body. As Bryant & May and their colleagues try to unravel this strange case, the body count rises and each murder resonates with scenes from the Punch and Judy show. No one is what they seem and everyone is hiding something.
Arthur Bryant is also finally writing his memoirs and mousey Anna Marquand is the lucky person who gets to transcribe Bryant’s memories. Except she isn’t all that lucky because she’s soon found dead from what looks like an unfortunate accident soon after she gives Bryant an edited draft of his memoirs and is mugged on her doorstep. As DS Janice Longbright is sent to investigate exactly what happened, it becomes clear that someone is after something Anna had in her possession. What is it and does it have anything to do with Arthur Bryant? It looks like the Home Office and Ministry of Defence have something to hide and they aren’t shy about silencing people that get in their way.
Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood is in effect a two-forked mystery. One explores the incestuous, back-stabbing world of London’s theatres and the other, the murky dealings of the government and the nature of covering up past mistakes.
It’s such joy to read Fowler’s mysteries which aren’t just whodunnits but a real treasure trove of eccentric characters and lots of interesting facts about London. It makes me glad I live in the city (although the murders don’t!) and it’s always a pleasure to be reacquainted with the Peculiar Crimes squad. They seriously are my favourite police characters and I want to be friends with them. The PCU have also recently relocated from their offices on top of Mornington Crescent tube station to an old building in King’s Cross that used to house spiritualists and mediums with an attic like a hoarder’s dream. Hilarious.
So do, do try the Bryant & May books. The mysteries are interesting, there’s always some kind of twist and, above all, you get to meet the eccentric and lovable old school sleuth Arthur Bryant!