19 December 2013

Review: FULL DARK HOUSE, Christopher Fowler - audio book

  • available from Audible
  • unabridged version
  • narrator: Tim Goodman
  • #1 in the Bryant & May series
  • length: 13 hrs, 24 mins 
Synopsis (Audible)


In Full Dark House, Christopher Fowler tells the story of both the first and last case of an unlikely pair of crime fighters - and how along the way they changed the face of detection.

A present-day bombing rips through London and claims the life of 80-year-old detective Arthur Bryant. For his partner John May, it means the end of a partnership that lasted over half a century and an eerie echo back to the Blitz of World War II when they first met. Desperately searching for clues to the killer’s identity, May finds his old friend’s notes of their very first case and becomes convinced that the past has returned ... with a killing vengeance.

 It begins when a dancer in a risqué new production of Orpheus in Hell is found without her feet. Suddenly, the young detectives are plunged in a bizarre gothic mystery that will push them to their limits - and beyond. For in a city shaken by war, a faceless killer is stalking London’s theaters, creating his own kind of sinister drama. And it will take Arthur Bryant’s unorthodox techniques and John May’s dogged police work to catch a criminal whose ability to escape detection seems almost supernatural - a murderer who even decades later seems to have claimed the life of one of them ... and is ready to claim the other.

Filled with startling twists, unforgettable characters, and a mystery that will keep you guessing, Full Dark House is a witty, heartbreaking, and all-too-human thriller about the hunt for an inhuman killer.

My take

World War II served  Arthur Bryant and John May very well. It meant that when they were barely out of their teens these two became the principal investigators of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. It is the crimes that are peculiar but one could be forgiven for thinking that Arthur Bryant in particular is a little peculiar. As Bryant ruffles feathers with the gaucheness of youth some of the victims of the crimes wonder if the police force might not have more senior investigators available.

The narrative flits effortlessly between the events during the Blitz and the current day when John May tries to work out whose nerve Bryant touched that resulted in his apparent death from a suitcase bomb when he was researching their first case for his memoirs.

I have enjoyed all that I have read from this series, the narrator in the audio books, Tim Goodman, has become for me the voice of Arthur Bryant. Christopher Fowler uses quite quirky historical settings and this case the main action is set in a West End theatre. The production is Offenbach's Orpheus,  designed to be a morale booster in bombed London. A succession of deaths threaten the closure of the theatre, while the Peculiar Crimes Unit faces imminent disbanding as the death toll mounts.

An excellent read. My rating: 4.7


I have also reviewed:
THE VICTORIA VANISHES
4.6, TEN-SECOND STAIRCASE
4.5, BRYANT & MAY AND THE INVISIBLE CODE

Bryant and May (series list from Fantastic Fiction)
1. Full Dark House (2003)
2. The Water Room (2004)
3. Seventy-Seven Clocks (2005)
4. Ten Second Staircase (2006)
5. White Corridor (2007)
6. The Victoria Vanishes (2008)
7. Bryant and May on the Loose (2009)
8. Off the Rails (2010)
9. The Memory of Blood (2011)
10. The Invisible Code (2012)
11. Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart (2014)
Bryant & May's Mystery Tour (2011)

1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - I'm glad you enjoyed the recording of this one. I do like the Bryant & May series - such great quirky characters and situations.

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