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Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler
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Full Dark House

by Christopher Fowler

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Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
A deightfully weird mystery story with a pair of utterly wonderful detectives. I shall be reading the rest of this series. ( )
  jen.e.moore | Mar 23, 2014 |
I loved the flashback / flash-forward telling of the story, alternating between the London Blitz and present-day London. We see the two main characters of the "Peculiar Crimes Unit" introduced to one another, and get a glimpse of the beginning of their partnership, then we jump forward in time to the same characters in their eighties, solving one more crime. Some of the characters seem to be introduced not to forward this particular plot, but because Fowler plans to use them in later books, so there was an irritating bit of point-of-view shift early on.

The story is at its best in wartime Britain. The police force, understaffed, struggles to get anyone to care about crimes committed in a city where thousands are dying. I never realized the extent of civilian casualties in London, nor the lengths to which authorities went to suppress information that would affect public morale. The descriptions of dark London nights are particularly well-done: Fowler gives us lightning flashes of a blacked-out, paranoid city, eerily lit by explosions and fires. He shows us, too, a darkly comic view of people doggedly carrying on daily routines in a city ravaged by war. In one scene, everyone must take cover during an air raid, and the new recruit to the Peculiar Crimes Unit is cheerfully directed to make the tea first. "He'd better not spill any," says one character to another.

I did find the plot overly convoluted. Wait, maybe this person is the murderer...okay, granted he's dead, but maybe he's not! How about that? No, wait, maybe THIS person is the murderer. But isn't she dead? Well, maybe she's not. Maybe THIS person is...you get the idea. At one point, our detectives try to account for the murders through apparent parallels to Greek mythology, and I can't make my victim count match theirs. Whatever. I gave up trying to make sense of the untangling of the mystery, and simply enjoyed the dialogue, the parallel narratives, and the friendship between May and Bryant. ( )
  Turrean | Feb 15, 2014 |
very disjointed, back and forth in time. good ending. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
World War II served Arthur Bryant and John May very well. It meant that when they were barely out of their teens these two became the principal investigators of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. It is the crimes that are peculiar but one could be forgiven for thinking that Arthur Bryant in particular is a little peculiar. As Bryant ruffles feathers with the gaucheness of youth some of the victims of the crimes wonder if the police force might not have more senior investigators available.

The narrative flits effortlessly between the events during the Blitz and the current day when John May tries to work out whose nerve Bryant touched that resulted in his apparent death from a suitcase bomb when he was researching their first case for his memoirs.

I have enjoyed all that I have read from this series, the narrator in the audio books, Tim Goodman, has become for me the voice of Arthur Bryant. Christopher Fowler uses quite quirky historical settings and this case the main action is set in a West End theatre. The production is Offenbach's Orpheus, designed to be a morale booster in bombed London. A succession of deaths threaten the closure of the theatre, while the Peculiar Crimes Unit faces imminent disbanding as the death toll mounts. ( )
  smik | Dec 19, 2013 |
Although Fowler is a good writer, the story did not captivate my imagination much. Yet another story draws parallels to Orpheus and Euridice; it is successful, but I am not sure if it is necessary. London during the blitz is described accurately, and is almost another character forcing events in certain directions. Throughout the book Arthur Bryant is described as a brilliant detective, but as much as I wanted to believe it, he did not live up to this description. Bryant and May are like Sherlock and Watson, yet they are not. Sherlock may search for outrageous explanations, but never at the expense of practical or scientific findings. So I suppose, in that way, they are not like Sherlock and Watson, though May really is like Watson. Bryant is loathed by many people, yet May and a few others love him, another mystery that is never convincingly explained through actions. So I guess my main problem with the narrative was that there was a lot told, but what was shown did not match what was told. Fowler is good at telling and showing, so I did not feel like he did one more than he should have, I just felt like he contradicted himself.

Recommended for those who like false teeth, Greek mythology, and Victorian architecture. ( )
  bluepigeon | Dec 15, 2013 |
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:01 -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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