10 August 2016

Review: STRANGE TIDE, Christopher Fowler

Synopsis (Amazon)

The river Thames is London’s most important yet neglected artery. When a young woman is found chained to a post in the tide, no-one can understand how she came to be drowned there. At the Peculiar Crimes Unit, Arthur Bryant and John May find themselves dealing with an impossible crime committed in a very public place. 

Soon they discover that the river is giving up other victims, but as the investigation extends from the coast of Libya to the nightclubs of North London, it proves as murkily sinister as the Thames itself. That’s only part of the problem; Bryant’s rapidly deteriorating condition prevents him from handling the case, and he is confined to home. To make matters worse, May makes a fatal error of judgement that knocks him out of action and places everyone at risk.

With the PCU staff baffled as much by their own detectives as the case, the only people who can help now are the battery of eccentrics Bryant keeps listed in his diary, but will their arcane knowledge save the day or make matters even worse? Soon there’s a clear suspect in everyone’s sights – the only thing that’s missing is any scrap of evidence.

As the detectives’ disastrous investigation comes unstuck, the whole team gets involved in some serious messing about on the river. In an adventure that’s as twisting as the river upon which it’s set, will there be anything left of the Peculiar Crimes Unit when it’s over?

My Take:

A Bryant & May, Book 13 in the series, following on from THE BURNING MAN.
Mostly I have been listening to the audio books of this series so it will be interesting to see how this one takes me.

Arthur Bryant appeared to be developing Alzheimer's quite rapidly at the end of the last book, and at the beginning of this one Raymond Land says he is in poor health and will be working mainly from home.

The problem is, as the PCU team knows, it is mainly  Arthur Bryant's experience, as well as his odd way of viewing things and connecting up the dots that has led to the team's excellent clear up record. Without him the team will have nothing.

The story starts with three excellent hooks: Queen Boadicea and a Roman legionary sitting on a wall, the capsizing of a Libyan refugee boat off the coast of Italy several years earlier, and then the discovery of a young woman's body near the Queen's Stairs in the Thames.

Ever present in the background of this novel is the River Thames, winding its way through London. We learn peculiar facts about its past and the effects it has had on its residents. As in the other books in this series Fowler's research has thrown up incredible antiquarian items which we see through Arthur Bryant's encyclopaedic brain. 

The plot twists and tangles, and just when you think there couldn't be more there is. As usual the future of the unit comes under threat and the mystery must be solved to save it.

Very enjoyable read, and yes, I did enjoy it as much as the audio ones I had listened to earlier.

My Rating: 4.6

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