Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Water Room by Christopher Fowler

In my post about Full Dark House I totally messed up and forgot to make a point. Which is this: If asked I would say, "I hate mysteries."

But I actually have read several overall and I don't hate them. Some are more intriguing than others. I prefer characters to the mystery. Over the course of several books you learn more and more about the backstory of the main characters.

Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to certain series and not others. For instance, having watched all of the TV series "True Blood" I no longer need to learn anything more about Sookie Stackhouse. But my best friend, Lady Chardonnay, says the Sue Grafton alphabet series (e.g. A is for Alibi) featuring Kinsey Milhone improve immensely past the first five books or so. So many books, so little time!

And in classic mysteries I've read one Agatha Christie (And Then There Were None), one Dorothy L. Sayers (Murder Must Advertise) and one Arthur Conan Doyle (A Study in Scarlet).

But I just love this series, the Peculiar Crimes Unit mysteries featuring Bryant and May. Why? The stories range from modern day London back to the beginning of the detectives' partnership in 1940, and all years between. They are full of London historical minutiae, which I adore. The mysteries are fun but the characters are the draw.

There is another mystery series I really enjoy, which also takes place in London. Those novels are set in the 1880s. The Barker & Llewelyn series features Cyrus Barker, a private enquiry agent and his young assistant Thomas Llewelyn. My library carries 4 out of 7 volumes, oddly only numbers 1, 2, 3 and 6. I am dying to read #7! In those books the past of Cyrus Barker is slowly being revealed. He seems to be a mixture of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond and Indiana Jones.

Mysteries based in London with larger than life characters and a strong dose of local history are my thing apparently.

    • The Water Room by Christopher Fowler
    • Published March 28, 2006

    • On Balaklava Street in London, an old woman dies of drowning but is found completely dry sitting in her also dry basement. And then it turns out she has river water in her lungs. An old tramp is hanging around the neighborhood. Several of the old lady's neighbors are suspects too. Bryant and May, using their unconventional methods of investigation, take on the case for the Peculiar Crimes Unit.
    • Arthur Bryant is in his early 80s; his partner John May is 3 years younger. 
    • The London history in this case focuses on the city's many underground rivers, mostly built over but still flowing towards the River Thames.

    • I am currently reading the 3rd book in the series. Then I will take a break from them and read other things. I already have the next three books on my Kindle because I watch the prices using my Amazon Wish List and these came down to $1.99. They are usually $11.99 each. Luckily the library has all the rest of the books.
    • I've also just picked up a couple of books at the library.
      • One is a young adult novel called Fallout about an alternate-reality where the Cuban Missile crisis leads to nuclear attacks.
      • The second is an autobiography of Terry Gilliam, of directing and Monty Python fame.

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