I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler
Genres: Detective, Mystery, British
Published by Bantam on December 2, 2014
Source: the library
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Also by this author: 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, London’s Glory: The Lost Cases of Bryant and May, The Memory of Blood, The Invisible Code
Eleventh in the Bryant and May detective mystery series (a.k.a., the Peculiar Crimes Unit) and revolving around a pair of ancient detectives in London who should have retired years ago.
I do enjoy Fowler’s start to these stories with that memo from Land, filling us in on the characters and the antics at the PCU. And Fowler has just increased the fun with the new PLO from the Home Office, lol. She’s providing plenty of opportunities for laughter, vis-a-vis Bryant taking the mickey out of her. Of course, it does add to the suspense, since she is so not impressed and wants that man gone!
I know just how he feels, lol:
”Bryant tapped at his hearing aid. ‘I’m sorry, he said loudly, ‘I think this thing’s on the blink. I can see your lips moving but all I can hear is rubbish.’”
As usual, it’s a complex mystery with plenty of twists, all focused on vengeance and greed using third-person omniscient point-of-view, so we learn about all the events and of everyone’s thoughts, feelings, and/or actions in an unbiased fashion. Although, it doesn’t prevent Fowler’s narrator from having fun, lol.
Spooky…hmmm, I probably should keep this for Halloween, since Bryant says that St. Georges Gardens was one of the first cemeteries to be hit by resurrectionists! And bodies are rising up from their graves!
Saddled with yet another unbeliever in the form of the new Public Liaison Officer from the Home Office, Bryant and May (oh, and the PCU) scramble to prove their abilities. In spite of their unorthodox methods.
People are being dug up from their recent graves, more are being harassed — and not only are the Tower’s ravens missing, but Dirty Dick’s is missing their collection of mummified cats and the London Zoo can’t find their colony of bats.
Detectives Arthur Bryant, who inhabits a world of alternatives, and the GQ John May are past the age of retirement and have no intention of going anywhere. Alma Sorrowbridge is Bryant’s keeper and housemate; Nathalie is his long-gone wife. Victor is Bryant’s bashed-up primrose yellow Mini Minor. Brigitte is the French girlfriend who gave up on May.
The Peculiar Crimes Unit was…
…created during World War II to solve crimes that threatened British morale. Ever since, the Home Office has been trying to shut it down. Dan Banbury is both IT tech and scene-of-crime. Detective Sergeant Janice Longbright really wants to be involved in Jack’s life. Sergeant Jack Renfield likes that the PCU let him be who he is; Sennen is his fifteen-year-old daughter who lives with her mother, Angie. Detective Constables (DC) Meera Mangeshkar and Colin Bimsley are the only lower echelons now that DC Fraternity DuCaine is on secondment to a Met unit. After 15 years, Raymond Land is giving up on the idea that he’s temporarily in charge. His wife leaving him probably brought him to his “office” senses at least. Crippen is the office cat, a momma. Amanda Roseberry is their new intern, and she has quite the high opinion of herself. The Daves are Turkish carpenters who are still rehabbing the warehouse office. Pavils was a temporary replacement.
St. Pancras Coroner’s Office is Giles Kershaw’s province with the ghoulish Rosa Lysandrou his housekeeper. The Ladykillers Café is a post-modern re-creation of a 1950s English tearoom, at 21st century prices that is a favorite haunt of the PCU. PC Julie Biggs runs into her own miscreant.
The new Public Liaison Officer, Orion Banks, is a marketing guru *eye roll* who is “a calculating machine that weighed everyone’s worth in terms of economic value to the company … double-crossed with less empathy than any male … and would string up her closest colleague for target practice.”
Romain Curtis is a high school student into astronomy and planning to study fashion design at college. Louisa Curtis is his mother. Lenny is his discouraging father. Shirone Estanza is quite appealing. Nico and Enrico are her dodgy brothers. Mr. Tarrant is a teacher.
Martin Wallace is an annoying fellow student with a pash for Shirone. Vanessa is his angry, venomous mother. His father, her husband, Thomas Edward Wallace, a partner in a small law firm, committed suicide. Dr. Iain Ferguson had been Wallace’s doctor.
Defluotech Management Systems is…
…a waste disposal brokerage with Wallace as their corporate lawyer. Krishna Jhadav and Justin Farthingale are directors. Irina Cope is Jhadav’s girlfriend. CaroFrend Processing is one of their clients; David Callow is the site manager.
Bryant’s consultants and/or friends include:
Dr. Evrim Ersoy, a neurologist, is acting as a consultant at the Wellcome Collection and is employed at the University College Hospital. Maurice Weiss is the maker and supplier of traditional bird tricks to the magic trade. Paul McEvoy, a Royal Academy painting restorer, is the country’s leading expert on premature burial. Maggie Armitrage is a witch and the leader of the Coven of St. James the Elder. Professor Peregrine Wosthold Merry is a dangerous academic to whom Maggie introduced Bryant in The Invisible Code, 10. Raymond Kirkpatrick is an English professor. Dierdre Cornholt owns a fish shop, and her son is a sports master at Harrow. Herbert Constable is a former MI6 cryptography expert. Jackie Quinten helps tend public gardens and would like to be closer to Bryant.
The Beefeaters, a.k.a…
…Warders, are the guards at the Tower of London and look after the Tower ravens: Hugine, Erin, Merlin, Munin, Rocky, Pearl, and Porsha. Should these ravens ever leave the grounds, it’s said that England will fall. Matthew Condright is the Raven Master and a friend of Bryant’s. Mr. Pettigrew is the Tower’s veterinary surgeon.
St. Georges Garden was…
…the first graveyard never associated with a church. Elspeth Mary Duncannon died just before Wallace. Carmelina Dominguez’s apartment overlooks St. Georges. Cherry, a Maltese terrier, is the reason there’s a Hyde Park pet cemetery.
John Wells and Sons is…
…a funeral parlour that’s been around since the early 1800s. Ronald Rummage and William are partners. Andy Orton is the embalmer; Betty handles accounts.
The New Resurrectionists are…
…today’s body snatchers and include Dr. Stephen Emes and Addison Court.
The Cover and Title
The cover has an orange-yellow background with a full moon spanning the title and the centered graphic of a gravestone with a raven atop the cross. Fowler makes good use of the base of the stone to include the series information. The base itself is surrounded by a bed of fallen leaves on which two black kittens from Crippen’s litter flank the gravestone. Behind the kitten on the right is a red heart, punctuated by five arrows. Ouch. The title (at the top) and the author’s name (at the bottom) both use black in a script font, which keeps intact the laughter.
The title is Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart, an apt description of the threat painted in the PCU attic, but more importantly, an indication that a corpse can be revived.