Hello! Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to JuliaPalooza for my stop on the Blog Tour for the new collection of Bryant & May short stories, England’s Finest by Christopher Fowler, which will be published in hardcover and ebook formats by Doubleday on 31 October 2019 (links below).
About the book
The Peculiar Crimes Unit has solved many extraordinary cases over the years, but some were hushed up and hidden away. Until now. Arthur Bryant remembers these lost cases as if they were yesterday. Unfortunately, he doesn’t remember yesterday, so the newly revealed facts could come as a surprise to everyone, including his exasperated partner John May.
Here, then, is the truth about the Covent Garden opera diva and the seventh reindeer, the body that falls from the Tate Gallery, the ordinary London street corner where strange accidents keep occurring, the consul’s son discovered buried in the unit’s basement, the corpse pulled from a swamp of Chinese dinners, a Hallowe’en crime in the Post Office Tower, and the impossible death that’s the fault of a forgotten London legend. All of the unit’s oddest characters are here, plus the detectives’ long-suffering sergeant Janice Longbright gets to reveal her own forgotten mystery.
These twelve crimes must be solved without the help of modern technology, mainly because nobody knows how to use it. Expect misunderstood clues, lost evidence, arguments about Dickens, churches, pubs and disorderly conduct from the investigative officers they laughingly call ‘England’s Finest’!
Being a long-time Christopher Fowler fan, and following my spot on the tour for Bryant & May – Hall of Mirrors, I was thrilled to be able to join the tour for England’s Finest.
First of all, look at the stunning cover! It’s got beautiful colours, it’s got snow, it’s Christmassy, there’s the Underground, it’s got Bryant mucking about!
I love Christopher Fowler’s writing style: it’s intelligent and pacy, with plenty of witty asides, nuggets of trivia and lots of Arthur’s humbugging. I particularly enjoyed the various The Ladykillers references and the all-too-fleeting references to intriguingly-named open cases.
The introductions to these books are always a delight and there are no fewer than four opening background pieces in England’s Finest, including an anonymous Brief History of The Peculiar Crimes Unit, so, even if you’ve not experienced Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May before, you can dive right in.
I love the references to real places in London and this book had me on and off Google Maps, matching up the descriptions in the book to their (sometime) real life locations.
The first story, Bryant & May and the Seventh Reindeer is festive, farcical fun, with a heart; Bryant & May’s Day Off is an eye-opening insight into post-war leisure time; the Postman is as twisted as a pretzel; and the Devil’s Triangle is extremely clever, if not a bit worrying.
In the Antichrist we learn that Arthur likes both EDM and horror films (marvellous!); the Invisible Woman is both gripping and heartbreaking; the Consul’s Son is a longer, meatier investigation, shining more attention to the wider membership of the PCU; and Bryant & May Meet Dracula takes us to Romania for a supernatural (sort of) murder mystery.
The Forty Footsteps takes us back to London and gives May a chance to shine, whereas Janice Longbright and the Best of Friends lets the PCU’s glamorous DI take the lead in a twisted, strange modern murder mystery; up the Tower revisits our heroes in London’s Swinging Sixties, for a fast, fun jaunt with a roll call of the biggest stars of the age; and the Breadcrumb Trail gives us a darkly amusing death and Arthur brilliantly trying to understand extremely modern technology.
This is a perfect collection of implausibly, improbably impossible mysteries for readers of Bryant and May both old and new, so get yourself a copy now and buy a spare (or two) for someone’s Christmas stocking!
Huge thanks to Doubleday for my gorgeous hardcover book and to Emma Welton of damppebbles Blog Tours for the opportunity to wax lyrical.
About the author
Christopher Fowler is the author of more than forty novels (sixteen of which feature the detectives Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit) and many short story collections. A multiple award-winner, including the coveted CWA ‘Dagger in the Library’, Chris has also written screenplays, video games, graphic novels, audio plays and two acclaimed memoirs, Paperboy and Film Freak. His most recent non-fiction book is The Book of Forgotten Authors. Chris divides his time between London’s King’s Cross and Barcelona. You can find out more by visiting his website and following him on Twitter or Facebook.
About the Blog Tour
Please check out the rest of the amazing bloggers on the tour for England’s Finest: