Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

Fowler, C. (2006). Ten second staircase. New York: Bantam.

This is yet another in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) Mysteries series. Again, Fowler has us following multiple mysteries. One concerns the Leister Square Vampire—an ongoing cold case more than 30 years old. The other is a string of murders committed by someone called The Highwayman.

First an installation artist, Saralla White, is found floating upside down in her exhibit – dead. Then Danny Martell, a TV host and teen lifestyle guru with a dubious record, is found electrocuted in a gym. He was alone at the time—no one entered the room after he did. Alexander Paradine, an alternative comedian related to the Earl of Devonshire, and Anthony Sarne are killed around the same time. Paradine is lured to an abandoned building to do a voice over for a commercial in a sound studio. Instead he falls through a hole in the floor neatly hidden with rug tiles—four stories down plus a basement kills him. Sarne is taking a shower after swimming in a public pool at night when someone pours petrol through the shower pipe and then drops a match through a hole in the glass roof.

WARNING…  ENDING SPOILER– do not continue if you don’t want to hear the ending!

The PCU folks are under threat of closure unless they solve the rash of murders and provide light in the Leister Square Vampire mystery. As it turns out, both are somehow connected. A private school teacher, Brilliant Kingsmere, just happens to be the son of the Leister Square Vampire. The Highwayman, turns out not to be a man at all but a group of Kingsmere’s students who together commit these acts of murder because they are bored and feel dead to the world.

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