Bryant & May: Strange Tide

A woman is found dead on the shore of the Thames in central London, chained to a pillar, with one set of footprints leading to the spot where she drowned in the tide. It's another case for detectives Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. The irascible Bryant, with his encyclopedic knowledge of London history, is full of theories. Lately, though, he's been wandering the city, confused as to which decade he's in. May, always the straight man, wonders if senility hasn't finally caught up with his old partner. Yet his mental lapses might be the very thing that helps them solve the mystery.

English author Christopher Fowler (Bryant & May and the Burning Man) has been heaped with awards and plaudits, and his popularity in North America is growing. Strange Tide, the 13th novel in his Bryant & May series, is written to stand alone, as are most of the others.

The plotting is tight, the pacing fast and the story conventional enough to feel like a comfortable new pair of slippers. The dialogue is snappy, with occasional metafictional nods ("This isn't an Agatha Christie. Criminals don't leave annoying little puzzles for you to unravel"), and Fowler's prose is both literary and unpretentious. Bryant's mental deterioration may pack more of an emotional punch for longtime readers, and several of the secondary characters may seem more rounded to those familiar with the other books, but on its own, Strange Tide feels complete and satisfying. --Zak Nelson, writer and bookseller

Powered by: Xtenit