Amy Myers is known for her short stories and historical novels featuring Victorian chef Auguste Didier and chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Her contemporary series features classic car detective Jack Colby, and she is currently working on a new 1920s mystery series featuring Nell Drury, chef at Kent’s Wychbourne Court.
“London’s burning, London’s burning,” runs the old song, and so it did in times past. But in the City of London in the twenty-first century? The twelfth in Christopher Fowler’s series of novels featuring the inimitable senior detectives Bryant and May of the police’s Peculiar Crimes Unit sees them in the midst of turbulent City riots sparked off by a banking scandal. The summer has been long and hot and Bonfire Night approaches.
Bryant and May aren’t there to quell rioters, however. This time there was a difference to the usual violent protests. Amongst the rioters had been someone with their own agenda. A homeless man had been curled up in the doorway into which a petrol bomb had been tossed – deliberately. It was a case of murder. The riots continue as Bryant and May delve into the evidence but as tension rises in the City the arsonist is quietly proceeding with his own agenda, choosing the next victim … and the next and ….
Meanwhile Arthur Bryant’s behaviour seems even more erratic and quirky than ever to his colleagues, but perhaps that is just his own idiosyncratic method of solving the case. One of the pieces of advice that the author imparts to new writers is that to write fiction you have to love your hero. In this novel he has most certainly taken this to heart in his depiction of the gentle relationship between May and his old comrade and colleague Bryant. That sensitivity stands out all the more against the vitality, ongoing wit, humour and dexterity with which the author portrays the violence and horror of the storyline – which provides most satisfying twists of plot.