Bryant & May on the Loose: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler

Fowler, C. (2009). Bryant & May on the loose: A Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery. New York: Bantam Books.

What a wonderful novel. Christopher Fowles has come through again. This time the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) has been disbanded and kicked out of their office. Things look bleak until a member finds a dead body missing its head. Suddenly the PCU folks are back at it. Of course they have a makeshift office with no access to any police databases and are unpaid, but if they can pull it off they may be reinstated.

In addition to the body, someone is dressing as a stag and frightening folks in the Kings Cross area of London. There is a large government sponsored building project going on there to revitalize an area that is crime ridden and derelict. ADAPT has been working on the project for 13 years and has been buying people’s property to put in the new buildings. However, the architect in charge, Maddox, has realized he has overlooked one vital piece of property that could bring the whole project crashing down along with his career.

In 1940 during the blitz, the Porter’s house was destroyed (ll Camley ). The deed was hidden in the basement and just uncovered by one of the workers clearing the area for ADAPT. The worker is a good guy (T. Delaney) and wants to find the rightful owner. Maddox has a lunch meeting with Delaney to convince him to turn over the deed to ADAPT but Delaney is too smart. Unfortunately this means Maddox hires someone to burglarize Delaney and when Delaney surprises him, the villain (Mr. Fox) kills Delaney. Mr. Fox is hired by another person for a different burglary and this also results in a murder. Mr. Fox knows the person dressing as a stag to frighten off the ADAPT workers, so he dumps the bodies and removes the heads to try and incriminate Xander Toth (the stag man). It almost works out. But Mr. Fox wants to clean up all who know about his involvement (the folks who hired him) so there are two more murders.

Meanwhile the PCU folks are closing in. They finally put the pieces together and catch Mr. Fox, but at the last minute he kills someone helping the PCU regular staff (Liberty DuCain) and escapes. Now Bryant has made it his mission to find Mr. Fox … but we will have to wait for another book for that.

Part of the charm of the PCU books, is the delving into London’s hidden secrets. In Bryant & May on the Loose, we get history lessons about the Kings Cross, Battle Bridge area. This area has great historic significance as many famous wells and springs were found here, as well as pagan temples, one of which later became the location of the first Christian church. Fascinating stuff.

Advertisements