Select one of the keywords
Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery    by Christopher Fowler order for
Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart
by Christopher Fowler
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I've wanted to read more of this very popular - and definitely quirky - Peculiar Crimes Unit series for some time, but other reviewers always got to the books first and I've been missing some amazing reads. The PCU's superiors always seem to be trying to shut the nonconformist unit down, foiled by the eccentric octogenarian detectives' successes, which of course happens this time around too.

Series leads, Arthur Bryant and John May, are senior detectives who have carefully avoided promotion. They and their subordinates work out of a decrepit warehouse on the Caledonian Road in London. On site with them are workmen trying to make repairs and a deluge of black kittens. Bryant & May form an Odd Couple partnership but complement each other's strengths and weaknesses. May is handsome, well groomed and tidy. He's intrigued by high tech and science fiction. The scruffy Bryant inhabits a world filled with 'fringe activists, shamans, shams and spiritualists ... bedlamites, barkers, fibbers, flaneurs, dowsers, duckers, divers and drunks.'

As Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart opens, teen Romain Curtis takes his date into St. George's Gardens for some star gazing. Instead they watch in horror as a cadaver rises out of its grave - a strange enough event to catch Bryant & May's interest despite the fact that the unit's survival is under scrutiny once more. Was the poor man buried alive? Then Bryant receives an urgent call for help from an old friend, now a Beefeater at the Tower of London. The Tower's seven ravens (a tourist attraction) have inexplicably gone missing - according to legend that means that England will fall. Who is behind it and how was it done? It's worth reading the book for the very canny solution to this locked cage mystery alone!

There are more deaths, dark magic, modern body snatchers, a crossbow wielding killer, mishandling of industrial waste, and interference from above (to which Bryant only appears to be oblivious) before it's all over. And success garners the unit a new protector, one who knows how to work the organizational/political machine to her benefit. If you enjoy well plotted Anglophile mysteries, filled with fascinating tidbits about the old country and enlivened with wry humor, then you've either already found this series or have missed some great entertainment.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Mystery books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews