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Peculiar Crimes Unit Series

Christopher Fowler
Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour by Christopher Fowler
Available ON (12-03-19)

Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour

Book 16
Ebook $13.99

Peculiar Crimes Unit Series : Titles in Order

Book 16
“The most delightfully, wickedly entertaining duo in crime fiction.”—The Plain Dealer

The brilliant Arthur Bryant and John May take the late, late shift in a cat-and-mouse hunt with a killer who preys on his victims at the same time every night—the lonely hour of 4 A.M.

When a man is found hanging upside down inside a willow tree on Hampstead Heath, surrounded by a baffling assortment of occult objects, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to investigate. Was this a botched satanic ritual pulled off by bored teenagers, a gang initiation, or the work of a mastermind with grander intentions? Bryant and May set off in search of answers and are soon reminded that London is a city steeped in blood and magic. 

When another body is pulled from the river at dawn, it becomes clear that a killer lurks in the night. To catch him, the PCU switches to graveyard shifts, but the team still comes up short. As they explore a night city where the normal rules do not apply, they’re drawn deeper into a case that involves murder, arson, kidnapping, blackmail, loneliness, and bats. 

May takes a technological approach, while Bryant goes in search of his usual academics and misfits for help, for this investigation reveals impossibilities at every turn. How do you stop a killer who appears not to exist? Luckily, impossibilities are what the Peculiar Crimes Unit does best.
Book 15
London, 1969. With the Swinging Sixties under way, Detectives Arthur Bryant and John May find themselves caught in the middle of a good, old-fashioned manor house murder mystery.

Hard to believe, but even positively ancient sleuths like Bryant and May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit were young once . . . or at least younger. Flashback to London 1969: mods and dolly birds, sunburst minidresses—but how long would the party last?

After accidentally sinking a barge painted like the Yellow Submarine, Bryant and May are relegated to babysitting one Monty Hatton-Jones, the star prosecution witness in the trial of a disreputable developer whose prefabs are prone to collapse. The job for the demoted detectives? Keep the whistle-blower safe for one weekend.

The task proves unexpectedly challenging when their unruly charge insists on attending a party at the vast estate Tavistock Hall. With falling stone gryphons, secret passageways, rumors of a mythical beast, and an all-too-real dismembered corpse, the bedeviled policemen soon find themselves with “a proper country house murder” on their hands.

Trapped for the weekend, Bryant and May must sort the victims from the suspects, including a hippie heir, a blond nightclub singer, and Monty himself—and nobody is quite who he or she seems to be.

Praise for Bryant & May: Hall of Mirrors

“Arthur Bryant has written his memoirs—and a jolly good yarn they make, too. . . . As always in this series, this one’s a lark.”—The New York Times Book Review

“[Hall of Mirrors is] a largely comic escapade whose tone evokes both the biting wit of Evelyn Waugh and the slapsticker shenanigans of P.G. Woodhouse.”—The Wall Street Journal

“More fully fleshed-out suspects, clues, red herrings, twists, and honest mystery and detection than in the last three whodunits you read.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The narrative [veers] between laugh-out-loud funny to macabre. . . . Eccentric and consistently entertaining.”—Booklist

“Fowler evokes the period as neatly as he crafts the plot.”—Publishers Weekly

“Wonderful.”—Deadly Pleasures

“So Agatha Christie (intentionally). And as in a Christie, nothing is quite what it seems as one murder follows another. Love the butler.”—Poisoned Pen Newsletter
Book 14
Detectives Arthur Bryant and John May are back on the case in this whip-smart and wildly twisting mystery, in which a killer in London’s parks is proving to be a most elusive quarry.

Helen Forester’s day starts like any other: Around seven in the morning, she takes her West Highland terrier for a walk in her street’s private garden. But by 7:20 she is dead, strangled yet peacefully laid out on the path, her dog nowhere to be found. The only other person in the locked space is the gardener, who finds the body and calls the police. He expects proper cops to arrive, but what he gets are Bryant, May, and the wily members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

Before the detectives can make any headway on the case, a second woman is discovered in a public park, murdered in nearly identical fashion. Bryant, recovering from a health scare, delves into the arcane history of London’s cherished green spaces, rife with class drama, violence, and illicit passions. But as a devious killer continues to strike, Bryant and May struggle to connect the clues, not quite seeing the forest for the trees. Now they have to think and act fast to save innocent lives, the fate of the city’s parks, and the very existence of the PCU. 

An irresistibly witty, inventive blend of history and suspense, Bryant & May: Wild Chamber is Christopher Fowler in classic form.

Praise for Bryant & May: Wild Chamber

“Ingenious . . . Fowler brilliantly mixes humor into a fair-play whodunit with an unexpected solution.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“For fans of offbeat mysteries, Fowler’s long-running series continues to offer some of the best reading; the latest entry features an array of eccentric characters, a killer conclusion in a library setting, quirky humor, witty writing, interesting side trips and expositions, and a well-ordered, intricate plot.”—Library Journal (starred review)
Book 13
London’s most brilliant but unconventional detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, must plumb the depths of a particularly murky mystery.
 
The Peculiar Crimes Unit faces its most baffling case yet—and if Bryant and May can’t rise to the challenge, the entire unit may go under. Near the Tower of London, along the River Thames, the body of a woman has been discovered chained to a stone post and left to drown. Curiously, only one set of footprints leads to the tragic spot. “The Bride in the Tide,” as the London press gleefully dubs her, has the PCU stumped. Why wouldn’t the killer simply dump her body in the river—as so many do?
 
Arthur Bryant wonders if the answer lies in the mythology of the Thames itself. Unfortunately, the normally wobbly funhouse corridors of Bryant’s mind have become, of late, even more labyrinthine. The venerable detective seems to be losing his grip on reality. May fears the worst, as Bryant rapidly descends from merely muddled to one stop short of Barking, hallucinating that he’s traveled back in time to solve the case. There had better be a method to Bryant’s madness—because, as more bodies are pulled from the river’s depths, his partner and the rest of the PCU find themselves in over their heads.
 
Fiendishly fun and rich in London lore, Bryant and May: Strange Tide is Christopher Fowler at his best, delivering more twists and turns than the Thames itself.
 
Praise for Christopher Fowler’s ingenious novels featuring the Peculiar Crimes Unit
 
“Fowler, like his crime-solvers, is deadpan, sly, and always unexpectedly inventive.”—Entertainment Weekly
 
“An imaginative funhouse of a world where sage minds go to expand their vistas and sharpen their wits.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
 
“[Fowler] takes delight in stuffing his books with esoteric facts; together with a cast of splendidly eccentric characters [and] corkscrew plots, wit, verve and some apposite social commentary, they make for unbeatable fun.”—The Guardian
 
“Mr. Fowler’s small but ardent American following deserves to get much larger.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
 
“The most delightfully, wickedly entertaining duo in crime fiction.”—The Plain Dealer
 
“Captivating.”—The Seattle Times
 
“Dazzling.”—The Denver Post
 
“Thrilling.”—Chicago Tribune
Book 12
No case is too curious for Arthur Bryant and John May, London’s most ingenious detectives. But with their beloved city engulfed in turmoil, they’ll have to work fast to hold a sinister killer’s feet to the fire.

In the week before Guy Fawkes Night, London’s peaceful streets break out in sudden unrest. Enraged by a scandal involving a corrupt financier accused of insider trading, demonstrators are rioting outside the Findersbury Private Bank, chanting, marching, and growing violent. But when someone hurls a Molotov cocktail at the bank’s front door, killing a homeless man on its steps, Bryant, May, and the rest of the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in. Is this an act of protest gone terribly wrong? Or a devious, premeditated murder?

Their investigation heats up when a second victim is reported dead in similar fiery circumstances. May discovers the latest victim has ties to the troubled bank, and Bryant refuses to believe this is mere coincidence. As the riots grow more intense and the body count climbs, Bryant and May hunt for a killer who’s adopting incendiary methods of execution, on a snaking trail of clues with roots in London’s history of rebellion, anarchy, and harsh justice. Now, they’ll have to throw themselves in the line of fire before the entire investigation goes up in smoke.

Suspenseful, smart, and wickedly funny, Bryant & May and the Burning Man is a brilliantly crafted mystery from the beloved Christopher Fowler.

Praise for Bryant & May and the Burning Man

“Fabulously unorthodox . . . [Fowler] takes delight in stuffing his books with esoteric facts; together with a cast of splendidly eccentric characters [and] corkscrew plots, wit, verve and some apposite social commentary, they make for unbeatable fun.”—The Guardian

“Winningly eccentric . . . The books are set in a skillful synthesis of a phantasmagorical earlier era and the modern age.”—Financial Times

“The most delightfully, wickedly entertaining duo in crime fiction . . . Fowler’s tale is a rich mix of laugh-out-loud lines, acerbic wit, obscure British history and a wonderfully puzzling story. Grade: A”—The Plain Dealer

“Fowler is even better than usual at getting readers to care about his squad of misfits.”—Publishers Weekly

“Not even Arthur Bryant’s alarming behavior can dampen the twelfth installment in the most joyously inventive mystery series of our time.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Fascinating and intriguing . . . This book is definitely a standalone novel that keeps the reader absorbed in the story, and will make everyone want to go back and read them all. . . . This is a very solid story and a great addition to Fowler’s long-running series. The mystery is fascinating and readers will definitely want to know what happens next. And for newcomers to the series, this will be an excellent place to start.”—Suspense Magazine

“Fans of the Bryant and May series will welcome this latest installment with plenty of obscure historical details mixed with outré crimes and the banter of the PCU members. Newcomers will find plenty to enjoy as well without finding the amount of details included from earlier outings overwhelming.”—Library Journal

“Witty with a dry sense of humor . . . finely plotted . . . complex and funny.”—RT Book Reviews

“A fascinating investigation with lots of false leads and a plethora of historical factoids.”—Mystery Scene
Book 11
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST MYSTERIES OF THE YEAR BY THE SEATTLE TIMES • London’s wiliest detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, are on the case in this fiendishly clever mystery. And when a cemetery becomes the scene of a crime, neither secrets—nor bodies—stay buried.
 
Romain Curtis sneaks into St. George’s Gardens one evening with his date, planning to show her the stars. A centuries-old burial ground, the small, quiet park is the perfect place to be alone. Yet the night takes a chilling turn when the two teenagers spy a strange figure rising from among the tombstones: a corpse emerging from the grave. Suffice it to say that wherever there’s a dead man walking, Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit are never far behind.
 
As the PCU investigates the sighting, a second urgent matter requires their unusual brand of problem-solving. Seven ravens have gone missing from their historic home in the Tower of London, and legend has it that when the ravens disappear, England will fall. Bryant has been tasked with recovering the lost birds, but when Romain is suddenly found dead, the two seemingly separate mysteries start to intertwine and point to a plot more sinister than anyone could ever imagine.
 
Soon Bryant and May find themselves immersed in London’s darkest lore, from Victorian-era body snatchers, to arcane black magic, to the grisly myth behind Bleeding Heart Yard, a courtyard long associated with murder. And as the body count spikes and more coffins are unearthed, they will have to dig deep to catch a killer and finally lay these cases to rest.
 
Darkly funny and fast-paced, Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart is a brilliantly twisting puzzle, conjured from the inventive mind of Christopher Fowler.

Praise for Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart
 
“Let’s talk about guilty pleasures. . . . A historic burial ground like St. George’s Garden, scene of the unfortunate incident of resurrection, is right up [Arthur Bryant’s] dark alley. And mine.”—Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Delectably droll . . . criminally underappreciated . . . guaranteed to amuse . . . [Bryant & May are] endearing throwbacks to a time when this genre was brainy and pure. They are the last of a breed and they know it. . . . Their very credibility puts quaint old Bryant & May in a class of their own.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
 
“Fans of the series will enjoy the continuing travails of these two long-suffering octogenerian friends and their fellow officers. Newcomers will appreciate the twists and turns of the case as well as the many details from the odd corners of one of the world’s great cities.”—Library Journal
 
“Endearingly eccentric . . . intriguing.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“Hilarious . . . a charming and intriguing mystery mixed with marvelous characters. [Christopher] Fowler’s snarky writing elevates what could be dull or routine and makes it a true joy to read.”—RT Book Reviews

“Make Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart the next book you read. . . . These stories are witty, challenging, engrossing, informative and incredibly well written. . . . Picture a television series that is a rough mash-up of Law & Order, The X-Files and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. . . . I sensed Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ed McBain and Agatha Christie nodding in approval. . . . [Fowler’s] latest book contains some of his best writing.”—Bookreporter
Book 10
London’s craftiest and boldest detectives, Arthur Bryant and John May, are back in this deviously twisting mystery of black magic, madness, and secrets hidden in plain sight.
 
When a young woman is found dead in the pews of St. Bride’s Church—alone and showing no apparent signs of trauma—Arthur Bryant assumes this  case will go to the Peculiar Crimes Unit, an eccentric team tasked with solving London’s most puzzling murders. Yet the city police take over the investigation, and the PCU is given an even more baffling and bewitching assignment.
 
Called into headquarters by Oskar Kasavian, the head of Home Office security, Bryant and May are shocked to hear that their longtime adversary now desperately needs their help. Oskar’s wife, Sabira, has been acting strangely for weeks—succumbing to violent mood swings, claiming an evil presence is bringing her harm—and Oskar wants the PCU to find out why. And if there’s any duo that can deduce the method behind her madness, it’s the indomitable Bryant and May.
 
When a second bizarre death reveals a surprising link between the two women’s cases, Bryant and May set off on a trail of clues from the notorious Bedlam hospital to historic Bletchley Park. And as they are drawn into a world of encrypted codes and symbols, concealed rooms and high-society clubs, they must work quickly to catch a killer who lurks even closer than they think.
 
Witty, suspenseful, and ingeniously plotted, The Invisible Code is Christopher Fowler at the very top of his form.

Praise for The Invisible Code
 
“Delightful . . . priceless dialogue . . . Fowler’s small but ardent American following deserves to get much larger. . . . The Invisible Code has immense charm. . . . Fowler creates a fine blend of vivid descriptions, . . . quick thinking and artful understatement. . . . Best of all are the two main characters, particularly Bryant, whose fine British stodginess is matched perfectly by the agility of his crime-solving mind.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
 
“Excellent . . . In the light of the challenges that Fowler has given his heroes in prior books, it’s particularly impressive that he manages to surpass himself once again.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
Praise for the ingenious novels featuring the Peculiar Crimes Unit
 
“Witty, charming, intelligent, wonderfully atmospheric and enthusiastically plotted.”—The Times (UK)
 
“A series of narratives that exert an Ancient Mariner–like grip on the reader . . . Christopher Fowler is something of a British national treasure.”—Crime Time
 
“Quirky, ingenious and quite brilliant . . . If you haven’t indulged you are really missing out. . . . Wonderful, gently humorous stuff, so clever.”—The Bookseller
 
“A brilliant series of impossible crime novels.”—The Denver Post
 
“Grumpy Old Men does CSI with a twist of Dickens! Bryant and May are hilarious. I love this series.”—Karen Marie Moning
 
“An example of what Christopher Fowler does so well, which is to merge the old values with the new values—reassuring, solid, English, and traditional. He’s giving us two for the price of one here.”—Lee Child
Book 9
Christopher Fowler’s acclaimed Peculiar Crimes Unit novels crackle with sly wit, lively suspense, and twists as chilling as London’s fog. Now the indomitable duo of Arthur Bryant and John May, along with the rest of their quirky team, return to solve a confounding case with dark ties to the British theater and a killer who may mean curtains for all involved.

For the crew of the New Strand Theatre, the play The Two Murderers seems less performance than prophecy when a cast party ends in the shocking death of the theater owner’s son. The crime scene is most unusual, even for Bryant and May. In a locked bedroom without any trace of fingerprints or blood, the only sign of disturbance is a gruesome life-size puppet of Mr. Punch laying on the floor. Everyone at the party is a suspect, including the corrupt producer, the rakish male lead, the dour set designer, and the assistant stage manager, who is the wild daughter of a prominent government official.

It’s this last fact that threatens the Peculiar Crimes Unit’s investigation, as the government’s Home Office, wary of the team’s eccentric methods, seeks to throw them off the case. But the nimble minds of Bryant and May are not so easily deterred. Delving into the history of the London theater and the disturbing origins of Punch and Judy, the detectives race to find the maniacal killer before he reaches his even deadlier final act. 

Whip-smart and endlessly entertaining, The Memory of Blood is an ingeniously intricate mystery from the deliciously inventive Christopher Fowler.

Praise for The Memory of Blood
 
“[The Memory of Blood] breathes new life into the locked-room mystery. . . . Spiced with a little screwball-comedy dialogue and a touch of the occult.”—The Washington Post
 
“Great fun.”—The Seattle Times
Book 8
Arthur Bryant and John May—and their team of proud eccentrics in the Peculiar Crimes Unit—have been given only one week to hunt down a murderer they’ve already caught once, but who somehow escaped from a locked room and killed one of their best and brightest. Facing a shutdown, Bryant and May, men of opposite methods, learn that their nemesis, expertly disguised, has struck again—and now he is luring them down into the vast labyrinth of tunnels and dark shadows of the London Underground. But soon they will discover a fresh mystery—one as bizarre as anything they have ever faced.
Book 7
The Peculiar Crimes Unit is no more—disbanded, finished, kaput. After years of defying the odds and infuriating their superiors, detectives Arthur Bryant and John May have finally crossed the line. While Bryant takes to his bed, his bathrobe, and his esoteric books, the rest of the team takes to the streets looking for new careers—until one of them stumbles upon a gruesome murder.

Now the Unit is back for an encore performance—in a rented office with no computer network, no legal authority, and a broken toilet. They’ve got until the end of the week to solve a mystery with links to gangland crime, the 2012 London Olympics, and a half-man, half-stag creature that’s carrying off young women. It’s the kind of case that Bryant and May live to solve . . . and it could be the one that finally kills them.
Book 6

Murder doesn’t get more peculiar than this. A lonely hearts killer is targeting middle-aged women at some of England’s most well-known pubs. What’s even more peculiar, Arthur Bryant happened to see the latest victim only moments before her death—at a pub torn down eighty years ago! It’s only the beginning of a case littered with clues that defy everything the veteran detectives know about the profiles of serial killers and the methodology of crime.

What do the Knights Templars, the secret history of English pubs, and the discovery of an astounding religious relic have to do with this recent crime spree? More important, do the Peculiar Crimes Unit’s two living legends have enough life left in them to stop a murderous conspiracy…and a deadly cupid targeting one of their own?
Book 5
It’s the classic locked-room mystery—a member of the Peculiar Crimes Unit killed inside a sealed morgue populated only by the dead and to which only four PCU members had a key. To make matters worse, the Unit has been shut down for a forced “vacation,” and Bryant and May are stuck in a van in the Dartmoor countryside during a freak snowstorm. Now they’ll have to crack the case by cell phone while trying to stop a second murder without freezing to death. For among the line of trapped vehicles, a killer is on the prowl, a beautiful woman is on the run, and an innocent child is caught in the middle….
Book 4
It’s a crime tailor-made for the Peculiar Crimes Unit: a controversial artist is murdered and displayed as part of her own outrageous installation. No suspects, no motive, no evidence—but this time they do have an eyewitness. A twelve-year-old claims the killer was a cape-clad highwayman atop a black stallion. Whoever the killer really is, he seems intent on killing off enough minor celebrities to become one himself. As “Highwayman Fever” grips London, Bryant and May, along with the newest member of the Unit, May’s agoraphobic granddaughter, April, find themselves sorting out a case involving artistic rivalries, sleazy sex affairs, the Knights Templars, feuding street gangs, and a decades-old crime spree that split up their partnership once before—and threatens to end it again…with murder.
Book 3
A mysterious stranger in outlandish Edwardian garb defaces a Pre-Raphaelite painting in the National Gallery. Then a guest at the exclusive Savoy Hotel is fatally bitten by a marshland snake. Over the next several days, an outbreak of increasingly bizarre crimes will hit London—and, fittingly, come to the attention of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Art vandalism, an exploding suspect, pornography, rat poison, Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, secret societies…and not a single suspect in sight. The killer they’re chasing has a dark history, a habit of staying hidden, and time itself on his side. Detectives May and Bryant are racing the clock and this time the bell may be tolling for them.
Book 2
“Traditional mystery buffs with a taste for the offbeat will relish British author Fowler’s wonderful second contemporary whodunit featuring the Peculiar Crimes Unit and its elderly odd couple, Arthur Bryant and John May.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

How can an elderly recluse drown in a chair in her otherwise dry basement? That’s what John May and Arthur Bryant of London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit set out to discover in a city rife with shady real estate developers, racist threats, dodgy academicians, and someone dangerously obsessed with Egyptian mythology. Linking them all is an evil lurking in London’s vast and forgotten underground river system—a killer with the eerie ability to strike anywhere, anytime, without leaving a clue. It’s a subterranean case of secrets, lies, and multiple murder that defies not only the law, but reason itself. Can Bryant and May bring a killer to the surface and stop the dark tide of murder before it pulls them under, too?

“A clever twist on the traditional police procedural . . . The real thrill here is the delightful duo in the starring roles, two fresh and unusual characters who manage to breathe new life into an established genre in which it’s getting harder and harder to find anything genuinely fresh.”—Booklist 

“Humorous, engaging.”—Kirkus Reviews

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