Book Review: Christopher Fowler’s London’s Glory: The Lost Cases of Bryant and May

Posted November 29, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

This book came from my own shelves, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.

Book Review: Christopher Fowler’s London’s Glory: The Lost Cases of Bryant and May

London’s Glory: The Lost Cases of Bryant and May

by Christopher Fowler

four-stars

Series: Bryant & May #11.5, Bryant & May #12.5, Bryant & May #7.5

Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Full Dark House, The Water Room, Seventy-Seven Clocks,, Ten Second Staircase, White Corridor, The Victoria Vanishes, Bryant & May on the Loose, Bryant and May Off the Rails, The Memory of Blood, The Invisible Code.

Genres: Crime Mystery, Mystery

This eBook has 238 pages and was published by Alibi on March 29, 2016. Discover more about it at Goodreads. You can also buy it at Amazon

A combination of eleven short stories, 12.5 in the Bryant and May crime mystery series based in London, and it recaps the first ten books, although it ranges all over time from World War II to today. It includes a brief look-in at the graphic novels and a list of the books in Arthur’s very esoteric library.

The cases are all over the map, but in Dramatis Personae, Fowler states that April has gone to Canada and Liberty has been murdered, so it’s obviously after Bryant and May Off the Rails, 8.

My Take

Writers will definitely want to read the introduction — it’s fascinating with Fowler’s assessment of the “truth” of writing crime novels balanced against what is real in the world, how he came to develop his old, odd characters: Arthur Bryant and John May, and excellent tips on writing.

”’Oh, yes, we were just sitting around knitting and doing jigsaws, waiting for your call,’ said Bryant. ‘You’d better tell us what happened before I’m tempted to bite you.’”

And if you’re interested in a list of mystery writers to add to your TBR, this is the place, as Fowler assesses past mystery writers.

In the chapter on “Dramatis Personae, Fowler provides a brief bio on the core characters in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU), a “division founded during World War II to investigate cases that could cause national scandal or public unrest”.

With all that said, most of the core characters only get a mention here and there.

Series

“Bryant & May in the Soup” takes place in 1952.
“Bryant & May and the Bells of Westminster” takes place in 1969 (and Bryant buys his yellow Mini Minor, Victor), again in 1970, and Fowler teases with 1975.
“Bryant & May Mystery Tour”, 7.5

After the PCU has set up in the warehouse:
“Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman”
“Bryant & May and the Blind Spot”
“Bryant & May and the Secret Santa”, 11.5

The Stories

Bryant & May and the Secret Santa” who gains the revenge he finds fitting. It’s a tale that will wring your heart. I have to say I totally sympathize with Gormley.

Eleven-year-olds Sebastian Carroll-Williams and Andrew Gormley, students at St. Crispin’s, are the victims. Mr. Gormley is Andrew’s angry father. Mr. Carraway is the floor manager at Selfridge’s. Mickey and Edwin are two of the dwarves. Miss Prentice is the manager at Branways, the school outfitter

Bryant & May in the Field” is a sort of locked-door mystery, even if it does take place in an open field. It’s a case of culture and mob rule finds a way.

Marsha Kastopolis is the wife of Phantasos “Mr. Eddie” Kastopolis, who owns North One Developments Ltd, a property company. Kaylie Neville was Marsha’s best friend. Giles Kershaw is one of the PCU core characters and the forensic pathologist at Camley Street. Mr. Bhatnagar manages the Rajasthan Palace where the kite-flying Raj and Said are waiters. Anderson is Kastopolis’ liaison officer at the Islington Better Business Bureau.

Bryant & May on the Beat” is another locked-door mystery, well, okay, a caulked-up one. It’s a quickie, and amazed me with how quickly Bryant figured it out.

William Warren is a part-time musician and instrument maker who sells at his stall.

Bryant & May in the Soup” takes place in 1952 during a London pea super. It was a nasty murder done in a twisted way, and yet proves that the reasons for murder are still finite.

”Arthur Bryant realized how bad the fog had become when he tried to post a letter in a Chelsea pensioner. Earlier that day he had asked a lamppost for a light.”

Harry Whitworth used to be a bus driver, and how he works in the office. Stan, May’s sister’s neighbor’s boy, is an apprentice in the bus maintenance garage. Charles works there too. Clive Whitworth is Harry’s son and cooks at the ABC Café. Dolly is one of the waitresses. Oswald Finch is a core character and is the coroner used by the Bow Street police.

Bryant & May and the Nameless Woman” is revenge against a womanizing husband. And how sweet it was, lol. I love that the “personal shopper” went right on ahead with Joel’s suggestion. Okay, I know the end plan was a bit much, but…really…*grin*

Joel Madden is a jerk of a rich businessman. Tucker is supposed to be the club lifeguard. Violet is a personal shopper. Some of the core characters include Detective Sergeant (DS) Janice Longbright within the PCU and Giles Kershaw who is the coroner. The two Daves are Turkish workmen who are supposed to be rehabbing the warehouse. Alma Sorrowbridge is Arthur’s live-in landlady. Sidney Biddle is an old friend of Arthur’s.

Bryant & May and the Seven Points” is absolutely gruesome. The sideshows in this traveling circus are typically weird, but its truth will make you want to retch.

Michael Portheim is an MI5 officer and mathematician specializing in codes. Harry Mills is an old friend and mentor of Michael’s who now runs the Incredible Arcade of Abnormalities. The horned Andrei the Great Federov is general manager. The “exhibits” include the Human Caterpillar, Lucio the Human Pincushion, Moth Girl, the Half-Bodied Woman, Electra the 30,000 Volt Girl, the Headless Lady, and the Mummified Princess. DS Janice Longbright goes undercover.

Bryant & May on the Cards” was a twisty one that held out attractions to bribe its victims. I’m still not really sure how it works, since the offer seems to go both ways.

The gullible Ian McFarland did two tours in Afghanistan and worked as a waiter at the Over Easy Diner. Golden is the owner’s Vietnamese wife who waitresses and does manicures on the side. Ian’s wife, Amanda, left him for Jake Finnegan who has opened a new restaurant, the Water House. Alessandro Ribisi is Jake’s partner and is a commercial property developer, LondonLink Direct Holdings, with the Mafia. The Elimination Bureau hands out credit cards with high limits. Raymond Land is the PCU supervisor. Keith Wallace is a forensics expert. Colin Bimsley and Meera Mangeshkar are the PCU constables.

Bryant and May Ahoy!” relates the only vacation Bryant and May ever took together and is another “locked-room” mystery. It was truly a clever idea. Too bad it was a death that wasn’t deserved. What is it with parents in denial about their children?

”The last thing I ate was an EasyJet sandwich. It was so bland I ate part of the cardboard wrapper without noticing.’

Demir Kahraman is the wealthy Turkish businessman with the yacht. Nevriye is the rescued daughter. Yosun is his famous actress wife. Ymir is the yacht’s butler; Raci is the chef. There was a dodgy boyfriend dealing in Anatolian kilims and drugs. Jane Beaumont is an antiques dealer. The Reverend Charles Parsley, who had been kind to Nevriye, is on his way to a Christian mission in Yali.

Bryant & May and the Blind Spot” is all about DS Janice Longbright and involves a very selfish ambassador’s wife, Madame Natalie Desmaris. It was amazing how much work is involved in providing security to someone.

Adrian Dunwoody is the senior security liaison officer for a security detail within the police department. DS Ian Hargreave was the cop who broke up with Janice. Carlo “Loco” Fabrizi is an ex-con — and one of the surveillance team’s undercover operatives.

Bryant & May and the Bells of Westminster” is a cheeky one that begins in 1969 with May falling for young Mia.

Simon Montfleury lives in the family manse, Bayham Abbey. Guests at the house party include MP David Stuart-Holmesby, Eudoria Fanning, Maureen Lippincot, and the young ladies: Mia Waleska, Jackie, Sandra, and Lisa. Coat-sleeve Charlie is a freelance photographer. Inspector Ian Hargreaves is handling the investigation for the Met. Algie Foresaw is forensics. DS Gladys Forthright, Janice’s mom.

Bryant & May Mystery Tour” is a mystery and a tour and the two do meet as Bryant and May solve the case of who killed the cleaning lady without really killing her.

Joan McKay is a cleaning lady. The naughty Sir Ian Lowry is the minister of defence. Debbie is a tour guide.

The Cover and Title

The cover has a light turquoise background with multiple circles of what I think are reflected light. The subtitle is at the top in a distressed black font while the title is all a’tilt in a 1950s diner-style font in red. Tucked in with the title is a thumbprint of the Union Jack. The author’s name is in black at the bottom.

The title is how you’ll find these two elderly detectives working…as Bryant and May on the Loose.


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