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Bryant & May off the Rails by Christopher…

Bryant & May off the Rails

by Christopher Fowler

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Review from Badelynge
Christopher Fowler's brilliantly conceived british detective series continues. This one has quite a lot of mess to clean up from the previous book. Mr Fox is back on the loose after his escape from custody and the Peculiar Crimes Unit is reeling from the death of one of their own. Bryant and May must use every resource available to bring the killer in or it's curtains for the unit.
London bleeds from these books. With so many writers setting thier story in London these days, many of them having never set foot on either bank of the Thames, it's a breath of fresh air to read about the place from a proper resident devotee. Bryant's fascination for all the minutiae of urban history and myth, that esoteric soup he draws on to fuel his investigations and which is served up with such a relish, it's obvious Fowler loves all this stuff as well. The other half of the aging duo, May, is the procedural side of the operation. Fowler somehow manages to write quirkily with great humour but also maintains real atmosphere, threat and suspense which is no mean card trick.
Off the Rails takes the PCU down to the London Underground as they try to track the seemingly faceless killer. Bryant is in his element sifting through the wealth of ghost stories and history that a bunch of Victorian tunnels can accrue in a century and a half. When one line of enquiry leads the unit to a bunch of students things become even more chaotic as the clues get obscured by Bryant's achilles heel - technology.
Review from an advanced reading copy. ( )
2 vote Finxy | Jan 7, 2013 |
In the 8th volume of the Bryant and May chronicles, our detecting partners are tracking down an old nemesis, Mr Fox, whose spiritual home is the underground (and Underground) of London. Mr Fox had been arrested by the Peculiar Crimes Unit but escaped in dramatic fashion, and now the PCU must recapture him in a week or else the unit will be disbanded for good.

For me the real treat of this book, besides Arthur Bryant's habitual cantankerousness, the crackling dialogue allotted to everyone in about equal measure, and some moments that actually had me hooting out loud (Raymond Land falling through the floor being one example) was the element of the London Underground. Chase scenes, snippets of Tube lore and ghost stories, and some technical description of the tracks themselves: for a transport geek this is some good stuff. The mystery itself held my attention for the most part but kind of fizzled out at the end; I almost didn't care how the story wound up. Regardless, my affection for the London Underground and the characters, and the fact that I am now inspired to read more about the Tube, prompted a four-star rating. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Nov 23, 2012 |
The Peculiar Crimes Unit is looking for “Mr. Fox,” who killed one of their colleagues while escaping from the unit’s jail in the last book. Plus they have a week to solve a series of seemingly random murders in the London Underground or else the PCU will be disbanded.

Led by the legendary (and elderly) odd couple of John May and Arthur Bryant, the PCU has been around for eons, taking on the most difficult cases, those that involve particularly sensitive, potentially explosive or just plain unusual crimes that have the potential for upsetting the masses and/or the status quo. But the Unit’s old-fashioned ways don’t set right with the advocates of “modern” policing who hold sway today.

Not to worry, however, we know that as long as Christopher Fowler continues to write these books, the PCU will live one in one way or another. I and all the PCU’s fans are hoping that’s a good long time. ( )
  NewsieQ | May 23, 2012 |
This is a continuation to Bryant & May On the Loose, although each book stands alone. It is the 8th in the series, and although I have not read the first 6, I intend to go back and read them because I enjoyed books 7 and 8 immensely. They are very easy to read, the dialog rings true, and the mysteries are challenging.

In addition, each contain some interesting facts about London, which are written into the story. ( )
  rretzler | Aug 17, 2011 |
The Peculiar Crimes Unit is sure to be axed. Still reeling from Mr. Fox's murder of one of their own, and then having to cope with his audacious escape while under their custody, the spotlight on the unit's performance couldn't be any hotter.

The PCU has just been relocated to a warehouse that isn't fit for the vermin already in residence. They don't have any electricity, or safe electricity anyway, and the floors seem to have disappeared altogether in some areas. To top things off they've also been given a deadline of a week to catch the elusive killer, Mr. Fox, or be shut down for good. And just to make things a little more challenging there is someone targeting people in the London Underground and the bodies are mounting. The perpetrator is never caught on any of the system's network of cameras and rumors abound about a supernatural figure lurking in the abandoned tunnels.

Demoralized, understaffed, and let's face it aging, it's not looking good for the unit charged with protecting the public confidence. Arthur Bryant and John May, the octogenarian crime team, are approaching the situation in their own way with some old fashioned detective work, a few magic tricks, a tarot card reader, and the application of an extensive knowledge of London history aided by a collection of moldering tomes. One or the other of them is sure to figure it out. They do have a week, don't they?

If you haven't already caught this series you really should give it a try. It is smart, funny and best of all unexpected in this age of one size fits all predicability. ( )
1 vote MurderMysteryMayhem | Mar 25, 2011 |
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'Youths green and happy in first love.
So thankful for illusion;
And men caught out in what the world
Calls guilt, in first confusion;
And almost everyone when age,
Disease or sorrows strike him,
Inclines to think there is a god,
Or something very like him.'
Arthur Hugh Clough
For Peter Chapman
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This building is now occupied by the Peculiar Crimes Unit until further notification from the Home Office.
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Arthur Bryant, John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit are on the trail of an enigma: a young man called Mr Fox. But his identity is false, his links to society are invisible and his home yields no clues. All they know is that somehow he escaped from a locked room and murdered one of their best and brightest. Now the detectives are being lured down into the darkest recesses of the London Underground where their quarry, expertly disguised, has struck again.… (more)

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