Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler
Release Date - December 2014
Book Review by Bob Walch
As Raymond Land, the chief of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, explains, the individuals he oversees don’t follow the usual investigative procedures most crime investigators do.
“We’ve had things going on here I could never put in official reports. You know they always say there’s a fine line between genius and madness? Well. Here the line gets rubbed out.”
Never was this more true than in this latest installment of the popular series. In Bryant & May and The Bleeding Heart, Christopher Fowler has the unorthodox crime solving unit transferred over to work under the jurisdiction of the City of London.
This might represent a small geographical area where blue collar crime is more common than the type of more bizarre cases Arthur Bryant, John May and their colleagues handle, but, don’t worry, they’ll manage to find something suitably odd to deal with.
In fact, in this instance grave robbery, murder, and the kidnapping of the venerable ravens that call the Tower of London home all mix together for a very entertaining and amusing puzzle that will once again allow Bryant and May to showcase their singular investigative techniques.
The most eccentric and eldest of the investigative team, Arthur Bryant may be slowing down physically but his mind is still working just fine, thank you, and he demonstrates his ability to think outside the box in this case.
Bryant must deal with an old nemesis who makes him very uneasy, but he’s able to rein in his own fears to deal with this extremely strange but dangerous individual. Where the other detectives don’t see clues or connections between suspects, Bryant does.
Explaining to Land how he operates, Bryant says, “You do not understand the nature of our work… It’s wool-carding. Kept apart, people are fundamentally decent and mean well, but when they’re put together they get themselves into terrible knots. Our job is to disentangle, clean and reweave the fibers of social life to produce a continuous cord suitable for processing.”
This investigation with its numerous twist, turns and unexpected revelations will not only keep even the most jaded mystery fan reading, but it will elicit a few chuckles along the way as well.
Some readers see the Bryant and May series as a CSI version of Grumpy Old Men with a little Dickens toss in for flavoring. I won’t disagree with that assessment. Christopher Fowler has carved a unique niche in the annals of crime fiction for his memorable cast of characters and he has discovered a very large and appreciative following of readers.