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Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler

Full Dark House (2003)

by Christopher Fowler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Bryant and May (1)

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1,157587,029 (3.65)164
  1. 00
    Real Tigers by Mick Herron (hairball)
    hairball: The tone of Real Tigers put me in mind of the Bryant & May series. While the subjects are very different, the characters are, if not of a piece, then cut from the same cake.
  2. 00
    The Somnambulist by Jonathan Barnes (SomeGuyInVirginia)
    SomeGuyInVirginia: Similar in tone. Both are darkly comic detection novels with supernatural overtones and set in London. The entire Peculiar Crimes series qualifies as a recommendation.

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Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
Can there be a more auspiciously named series than that of the Peculiar Crimes Unit Mysteries? Set up in the dawning age of WWII, the Unit was formed to address the types of cases the London constabulary either didn't care to or couldn't tackle. In theory, it was to be comprised of original civilian minds and bright young police officers. In actuality, it soon became a way station for ... ahem, 'peculiar' types.

The book opens with a modern era bombing of the Peculiar Crime Unit's offices. All that can be found of Arthur Bryant, who had stayed late the evening before, are bits of flesh. Bryant's partner of almost 70 years, John May, vows to find those responsible, even as the London PD moves on to more pressing cases. Perusing Bryant's cryptic notes, May finds Bryant had been revisiting their very first case together at the height of the London Blitz. A venerable theater has been witness to a horrible crime -- a dancer killed by chopping off her feet. The memories come flooding in as May tries to discover what relevance that age-old solved case might have to the present crime.

Picked up the series based upon some hearty recommendations. I quite enjoyed the interaction between young May and Bryant and their cohorts at the newly formed Unit. Bryant is the quirky, brilliant civilian with odd reading habits. May is the young, freshly minted officer who helps inject a more pragmatic perspective, keeping Bryant from his more egregious flights of whimsy. I adored such phrases as: "He had the suicidal expression of a Norwegian painter and the posture of an unstuffed rag doll." Fowler uses enough theater vernacular and references old London haunts to give a genuine sense of place without that "Look-at-all-the-research-I've-done" dump of information infecting many a historical tale. The crimes themselves were enough to keep me guessing and caught up in the mystery.

The alternating chapters between present time and WWII are not well delineated and might be off-putting to some readers. I was able to pick up relatively easy within a paragraph or two, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue. I will be re-visiting this series again! ( )
  michigantrumpet | Jan 16, 2017 |
I thought this would be right up my alley - a mystery with a historical twist and add in a bit of peculiar or supernatural but I didn't get into it very well. I finished it but it just never grabbed me. Set in England in WWII with two young men who become lifelong friends after a dancer who is part of a big show in rehearsal ends up dead with her feet cut off. The story goes back and forth in time as one of the partners, Arthur Bryant, seems to have been killed in an explosion. He and his partner, John May, are both now in their 80s. The theater is an old one with a million places to hide and maybe no one who knows where everything is. Others in the production are killed in odd ways before the mystery is solved. Meanwhile, Bryant isn't dead after all but he was injured and confused. Don't know if I will read another in the series.
  taurus27 | Jun 3, 2016 |
First of a series featuring London's Peculiar Crimes Unit, which began during WWII as a place to "dump" cases that were unlikely to be solved and would make the regular forces look bad. This one features multiple murders in the Palace theatre, which is preparing for the opening of Orpheus in the Underworld, a production likely to shock the public and possibly get banned by the Lord Chamberlain for its near-nudity and sexual content. Even in the midst of regular bombing, with cast members being skewered by props or slashed by a mysterious "phantom", the show must go on. I like the main characters, but didn't care for the way the story was plotted. And the whole Orpheus connection seemed overworked. Red herrings and side-plots felt a bit "plugged in". I saw one twist coming, and probably should have suspected another, but the whole just didn't satisfy me. Might give Bryant and May one more chance.
Review written October 2014 ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | May 31, 2016 |
Quirky, fascinating historical read
  ZeStY10708 | May 27, 2016 |
Plastic carrier bags floated around the traffic lights at the end of the Strand like predatory jellyfish. The hum of traffic around them was like the drone of bombers. The air was acrid with exhausts. Bryant leaned on his walking stick to catch his breath. The stick was a sore point; May had bought it for his partner's birthday the previous year, but Bryant had been horrified by the suggestion that he was facing mobility difficulties. It had remained in his conservatory for several months, where it had supported a diseased nasturtium, but now the elderly detective found himself discreetly using it.

I have met detectives Bryant and May before, as minor characters in the novels "Rune" and "Soho Black", but this is the first book in their own series. An explosion in the offices of the Peculiar Crimes Unit turns out to have links to the very first case they worked on together back in World War II, which starred with the death of a dancer backstage at a London Theatre.

A good introduction to the work of the Peculiar (originally in the sense of 'particular') Crimes Unit which was set up during the war to work on cases that could cause public panic. I'll be picking up the rest of the series whenever I come across them. ( )
1 vote isabelx | Mar 20, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 57 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Fowlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Chlewińska, IwonaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duha, OndřejTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Merino, IsabelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Bill - scientist, firewatcher, father (1923-2003)
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It really was a hell of a blast.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553385534, Paperback)

A bomb rips through present-day London, tragically ending the crime-fighting partnership of Arthur Bryant and John May begun more than a half-century ago during another infamous bombing: the Blitz of World War II. Desperately searching for clues to the saboteur’s identity, May finds the notes his old friend kept of their very first case and a past that may have returned…with murderous vengeance. It was an investigation that began with the grisly murder of a pretty young dancer. In a city shaken by war, a faceless killer stalked London’s theater row, creating his own sinister drama. And it would take Bryant’s unorthodox techniques and May’s dogged police work to catch a fiend whose ability to escape detection seemed almost supernatural—a murderer who decades later may have returned to kill one of them…and won’t stop until he kills the other.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:02 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When a bomb claims the life of John May's detective partner of more than half a century, May becomes convinced that the key to the killer's identity lies in his first case together with his partner.

» see all 5 descriptions

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