Friday, November 21, 2014

"Bryant and May on the Loose" by Christopher Fowler

“On the Loose” finds Bryant and May directionless, having been fired after a previous case. The narrative feels a little disjointed as well. And, even when another case surfaces and they are called back in for one more effort, things are a little hard to keep straight. Perhaps that is the way murder investigations are in real life, but novels demand a little more order. Here we are not even sure who has been killed, and at one point it feels like they have two copies of the same body. Characters abound, and for some reason I had a lot of trouble remembering who was who.

All that said, it is clearly another case in the very well defined and consistent Bryant and May universe. We have a mystery whose solution is somehow stumbled upon by our heroes, seemingly in spite of themselves. As always it has to be chalked up to Bryant’s intuition. And, as always, it is arrived at whilst he is chasing fringe theories and arcane histories. Because in this world, culture and events are tightly intertwined with their locations and histories.

London’s King’s Cross district is apparently just a Christian veneer laid over the oldest pagan site on the island, and that somehow drives a murderer to replicate ancient sacrifices that were practiced there, not intentionally but coincidentally. Our detectives chase several red herrings and outright mistaken theories until the solution is stumbled upon, but in the end we will get another novel with the same villain.

Hopefully that spoiler doesn’t ruin the book, but quite honestly it is the first of this series that I am not recommending, so maybe it doesn’t matter. The other ones I have read are much better and I would suggest checking them out. Here, here, and here.

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