Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Bleeding Heart by Christopher Fowler

First Sentence:  From Raymond Land to All Staff:  So, it’s a new beginning for us.
The Peculiar Crimes Unit is now under the jurisdiction of the City of London and, as usual, their new top boss would like to see an end to the group.  However, two crimes are keeping them in the game.  A young man appears to see a body rise from a grave and claims it spoke.  Have Resurrectionists returned?  But what did the young man see that resulted in his murder a few days later?  Someone stole the seven ravens, symbol of the British Empire, from the Tower of London.  Only Bryant could discover a link between the two crimes.
How wonderful that Fowler includes a cast of characters, in the form of a staff roster, at the beginning of his books.  And, right from the start, we are treated to the wonderful voice and humor of Flower.  It’s a rare treat when an internal memo can be amusing.
It’s nice to have a true ensemble cast of characters, which each playing a significant role in the story and each being fully developed.  Although the primary characters are James May and Arthur Bryant—what a wonderful relationship that is--Bryant took the lead here.  He seems to have mellowed bit and we learn much more about his past, which is quite lovely, but we did not lose any of that which makes him so delightful.  However, all the relationships are so well drawn, the characters transform into being actual people to the reader. 
Fowler’s voice, wit and dialogue are such a pleasure to read…”Why have you got a house brick in there [Longbright’s handbag]?’  “Under British law you can’t stop a suspect with a weapon but you might be allowed to hit him with something that would naturally be in your hand at the time,”…. “PC Biggs folded her arms.  No honest citizen should ever do anything that makes a police officer stand back and fold her arms.”  There is also a delightful scene of the pathologist being thrust into a very different role than that to which he is accustomed.  Fowler is very good at doing the unexpected.
There is one small criticism and that is the inclusion of portents.  Portents are really, really annoying, unnecessary and, rather than create suspense, have the opposite effect.  They are also somewhat insulting to the reader as it’s as though the author assumes the reader won’t continue otherwise.
The Bleeding Heart” is very clever with wonderfully logical explanations of crimes which seem so odd.  It is an absolutely delightful book.

THE BLEEDING HEART (Pol Proc-Bryant and May-London-Contemp) – VG+
Fowler, Christopher – 11th in series
December, 2014 

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