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Christopher Fowler Mysteries
Christopher was born in Greenwich, London, and now lives in King’s Cross, London. He attended Colfes, the Royal Leathersellers Guild School, and after joined J Walter Thompson as a copywriter. At the age of 26 he founded The Creative Partnership, a company that changed the face of UK and international film marketing, and spent many years working in film, creating movie posters, trailers and documentaries.
Though Fowler has written many novels, we are primarily interested in Fowler as the author of the Bryant and May mysteries, featuring two rather unusual detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, both octogenarians who are members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, a special unit designed to investigate bizarre crimes and incidents. They are portrayed as the perfect odd couple of polar opposites which attract, though they long ago found a working harmony somewhere between Bryant’s blatant eccentricities and lateral thinking and May’s flawed common man image, backed up by his common sense logic. Together they have forged a crime fighting partnership that has been unravelling seemingly impossible crimes for several decades before the timeline of this series even begins, with several of the novels being reminiscences of their past glories. And, if this charming pair of detectives is not sufficient to arouse your interest, these novels are all set against the backdrop of grimy, vibrant, enchanting, London, which Fowler has clearly made the third star of this very engaging series.
Our locked room page lists all the Bryant & May, even though some of these cases are technically not locked rooms, nor are they all completely impossible crimes, as each case is so bizarre that we simply must slightly bend the rules and include their intoxicating magic in this genre. This series is, quite simply, one of the best modern mystery series of any persuasion, and right up there in the ranks of locked room and impossible crime literature, with genre greats like Rawson, Crispin, and Carr!
As we already noted, the set is London, with stories taking place in various years between World War II and the present, and while there is a progressive narrative, many of the books focus on flashbacks to major incidents from the detectives’ shared past. For instance, Full Dark House, the first in the series, focuses on John May’s reminiscence of the team’s first case together during the Blitz, while Seventy Seven Clocks is framed as Arthur Bryant’s retelling of a case from 1973. Bryant and May, also appear in Fowler’s Rune, Darkest Day, and Soho Black, although these books are not considered part of the series.
Fowler weaves many factual layers of London’s history and society throughout the series. Most of the locations are recognizable London landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, The Tate Gallery and various theatres. A major feature of The Water Room is the networks of tunnels and underground rivers beneath the city.
There are also many references to other literary works throughout the series. Seventy-Seven Clocks contains references to Gilbert and Sullivan throughout the narrative, while The Victoria Vanishes has similarities with The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin.
Edited from Wikipedia