Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler
|Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: Old fashioned sleuthing by old fashioned sleuths. Ageing detectives Bryant and May are denied an interesting dead body and obliged instead to look into the sudden anger management issues of the wife of a senior civil servant. Witches, curses and codes.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 349||Date: June 2013|
|Publisher: Bantam Books|
|External links: Author's website|
Never judge a book by its cover? Oh come on... Doesn't that do a huge disservice to the army of graphic designers designing those covers? To be fair, the designers don't get the final say and we've all read things that didn't do what they said on the tin, but I think it's time we started giving a bit of credit to those that do.
So, my first good job! on this little book goes to all involved in designing and selecting the cover.
It spoke to me of Poirot and Maigret, gentlemanly eccentrics, of country houses and genteel crime, of (in other words) classic detection rather than true-grit-grime-and-crime. I expected a body or two, but no graphic descriptions. I expected twists and deceptions, but more as puzzles than as cliff-hanging stomach churners. I didn't expect a comedy read, but I did accept more than a touch of the absurd.
And that was what I got.
For those who, like me, haven't come across Bryant and May before: where have we been? This is the tenth in the series of tales starring Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.
Peculiar Crime number 1 in this case is the witch who walked into church and, for no apparent reason, dropped dead. I say no apparent reason, but there were two young witch-hunters in the doorway cursing away like mad.
The second peculiarity, though technically not a crime is that our less-than-dynamic duo being hired by Oskar Kasavian, senior civil servant at the Home Office whose usual pastime is trying to shut the unit down and who is currently particularly tetchy on account of Bryant's recently published memoirs. Kasavian's beautiful young Albanian wife, Sabira, is suddenly acting very strangely.
Sabira is extremely angry all of the time. She believes she is being chased by demons, that people are casting spells on her. Has she suddenly just lost the plot or is something more sinister afoot - and if the latter does it have anything to do with her husband's upcoming delegation to the EU to put the British case on border controls?
Bryant is intrigued by the first case. Being told that it's out of their jurisdiction isn't going to stop him investigating - especially when a second death enters the equation.
The caper follows what I expect is the usual esoteric route with Bryant ignoring all the rules, wandering off into the bowels of the British Library and consorting with witches of his own. Along the way there is gentle trundle through bits of British history and the surviving class system, which would be funnier but for the need to explain them for the benefit of the young, the foreign or simply the less-well-read.
Of course, there's a CSI to do the Sherlock Holmes deducing that among the obvious height and stuff the dead man who lived in the apartment concerned likes his women young. He has serious commitment issues because of his brain-damaged four year old daughter.
It's the kind of book that you will either love or simply not get. It is one of life's simple pleasures: a merry little jaunt with no real purpose beyond allowing the writer and the reader to have some fun.
I love the idea of builders will be fine as answer to what kind of tea one would like. It's a usual response in my office and only becomes amusing when the conversation takes place in Claridges.
Favourite character name has to be Fraternity DuCaine. Favourite description: like Judge Jeffreys with a gastric complaint.
If you enjoy it, you will not only not mind that the whole catalogue is very similar (I'm guessing)... You will positively expect it to be so. I'm off to find out.
If you like your crime laced with humour, why not head further afield and try a trip to India for The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall
You can read more book reviews or buy Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler at Amazon.com.
Like to comment on this review?
Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.