cover image Bryant & May: Peculiar London

Bryant & May: Peculiar London

Christopher Fowler. Bantam, $28.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-593-35624-1

British author Fowler’s valedictory 19th book featuring eccentric sleuths Arthur Bryant and John May (after 2021’s London Bridge Is Falling Down) offers no mysteries for the Peculiar Crimes Unit to solve, just anecdotes and history about London, which May himself qualifies as being both “personal” and “unreliable.” That places the onus on readers to try to guess what’s real and what’s not, which may frustrate some. The stories told by Bryant and May as well as members of the series’ supporting cast are replete with humorous trivia. For example, PCU stalwart Janice Longbright, whose mother was one of the unit’s original members, shares that flowers or mushrooms shouldn’t be picked from a certain cemetery “because the arsenic from so many embalmed Victorian corpses has poisoned the soil.” Bryant, in discussing the maritime history of the Deptford area, where the king’s naval yard was once located, explains that the Jolly Roger didn’t always identify pirates and was based on a Spanish symbol “signifying the victory of transcendence over mortal bones.” This is a fun last look at beloved characters for their devotees. Agent: Howard Morhaim, Howard Morhaim Literary. (Dec.)