Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler

I am not generally a reader of mysteries. I know there are a lot of people who read ONLY mysteries. In most cases I will read the first or second book in a series and then other things catch my attention. For instance, over the last ten years I have read the following mysteries:

  • A is for Alibi (Kinsey Millhone #1) by Sue Grafton
    • Nope, not even going to attempt to read 25 more of these (she's up to X and the final book is due by 2019).
  • The Spellman Files (Izzy Spellman #1) by Lisa Lutz (a recommendation by my best friend, Lady Chardonnay)
    • A young woman who's a private investigator, described as "part Nancy Drew, part Dirty Harry"! These have a humorous slant.
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
    • Taking place in Botswana, the detective is Precious Ramotswe. I read the first three of the series. It was very good but repetitive in the way that mysteries can sometimes be.
  • Case Histories (Jackson Brodie #1) by Kate Atkinson (also a Lady C recommendation)
    • Only 4 books in the series and the author has moved on to other things, especially the amazing Life After Life which is not a mystery.
  • Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris
    • I was in no way compelled to continue on with this series but I did binge-watch "True Blood" after reading this.The TV show is silly but fun and entertaining.
  • The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce #1) by Alan Bradley 
    • Flavia is an 11-year-old girl in 1950s England. There are a bunch more out now so I may revisit this series.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millenium #1) by Stieg Larsson
    • I also read the second book but these are extremely violent and gory and I am sorry I went past the first. 
  • Keepsake Crimes (Scrapbooking Mystery #1) by Laura Childs
    • A "cozy" mystery which takes place in New Orleans' French Quarter and the crime solver owns a scrapbook store. Laura Childs pumps out a bunch of different cozy series. Each book is basically the same, my biggest problem with some mystery series.


I have read only one book by John Grisham, The Pelican Brief, mainly because part of it takes place in Louisiana, my home state. About 25 years ago, when everyone at work was passing around Grisham's The Firm I asked one of my coworkers what the fuss was about. She said he was a good writer for people who didn't read that much! I passed when the book was offered to me. (But apparently his books are considered to be "legal thrillers" not mysteries.)

There are so many mystery series though! Life is too short to get bogged down in too many series, no matter how good they are!

But I think I have found a mystery series where I may need to read them all! There are 12 books so far and my plan is to read the first three for now.

  • THE BOOK
    • Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler
    • Published in 2003 in Great Britain and in 2004 in the United States
    • First book in the Peculiar Crimes Unit series
    • Mystery

  • THE PREMISE
    • Two police detectives for London's Peculiar Crimes Unit have shared a partnership for over 50 years. Arthur Bryant is 80 years old and his partner John May is 76. The PCU gets all the odd crimes the regular police force can't solve. Arthur is a bachelor curmudgeon who relies on unorthodox thinking while John, a widower, balances out the partnership with his somewhat more conventional skills.

  • THE STORY
    • An explosion destroys the current day headquarters of the PCU. John May starts investigating and finds the crime relates to the first case Bryant and May ever worked on together in London in 1940, when they were young men of 23 and 19. A dancer is murdered at a theater and then other deaths follow. Who is the murderer and why? And how can it be related to the current day explosion when everyone from those days is dead or very old?
    • The story bounces between 1940 and present day (about 1997 or so) to solve the mystery.


These books are very funny (aside from the murder-y parts). For example, Arthur convinces one of his new coworkers that the German bombers of the Blitz can see and target redheads so the coworker ends up shaving his head. Hmm, maybe this is one of those "you have to read it for yourself" things!

I really enjoyed the book. It takes place in London, it's humorous and the detectives and their team are strongly drawn. Highly recommended for those who like mysteries, stories that take place in London, strong characters and whimsy.

2 comments:

  1. Lady C will not appreciate the humor in bombing redheads.

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    Replies
    1. Ha! Yes. Clearly you had to be there. And maybe not even then.

      The thing about the Sue Grafton books is that the series completely changes 'round about E or F or G. The first books are just okay, fairly conventional thrillers, but then the author really finds her voice and it's all so so so good. I am actively grieving the fact that there are only two more stories left to tell about Kinsey Milhone.

      But: It's clear, again, reading this list, how different our tastes are and how differently we approach the idea of a series. You seem to prefer stand-alone books, right? whereas I don't care one way or the other. In other words: I am certainly not encouraging you to read the Sue Grafton series! If they're not your cuppa, they're just not. Ditto the Spellman books. Potato, potahto.

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