Bryant & May – The Bleeding Heart
Random House UK, Transworld Publishers
It’s a fresh start for the Met’s oddest investigation team, the Peculiar Crimes Unit.
Their first case involves two teenagers who see a dead man rising from his grave in a London park. And if that’s not alarming enough, one of them is killed in a hit and run accident. Stranger still, in the moments between when he was last seen alive and found dead on the pavement, someone has changed his shirt…
Much to his frustration, Arthur Bryant is not allowed to investigate. Instead, he has been tasked with finding out how someone could have stolen the ravens from the Tower of London. All seven birds have vanished from one of the most secure fortresses in the city. And, as the legend has it, when the ravens leave, the nation falls…
Soon it seems death is all around and Bryant and May must confront a group of latter-day bodysnatchers, explore an eerie funeral parlour and unearth the gruesome legend of Bleeding Heart Yard. More graves are desecrated, further deaths occur, and the symbol of the Bleeding Heart seems to turn up everywhere – it’s even discovered hidden in the PCU’s offices. And when Bryant is blindfolded and taken to the headquarters of a secret society, he realises that this case is more complex than even he had imagined, and that everyone is hiding something. The Grim Reaper walks abroad and seems to be stalking him, playing on his fears of premature burial.
Rich in strange characters and steeped in London’s true history, this is Bryant & May’s most peculiar and disturbing case of all.
Considering that this is the 11th book in the series I had no problem at all in picking up this novel and quickly becoming involved and engaged with the characters and the narrative; and this read was fun! As Fowler says on his website; http://www.christopherfowler.co.uk/blog/faq/
“I’m certainly no fan of kitchen sink drama I like stories that soar into strangeness rather than ones that faithfully replicate the ordinariness of life,” and this novel certainly dips into the ‘strangeness’ jar coating the characters in quirky, spreading ‘unusual’
across a swathe of bizarre crimes (disinterred bodies, a death by sewage, ghostly happenings, evil mad magical conspirators, missing birds…the list goes on.
I read somewhere (sorry the source has escaped me) that Fowler continues to add to this series because writing it is fun – and the reader gets a real sense of this in the narrative; the whimsy, the oddball, the eccentric…the quirky, all mixed with a good dose of social commentary and of course crimes as they progress through this novel.
This is good solid enjoyable crime read somewhat reminiscent of the style of the Golden Age of Crime – at the least, the protagonists are of that golden age 🙂