RogerBW's Blog

The Victoria Vanishes, Christopher Fowler 21 July 2022

2008 police procedural mystery/horror, sixth in the Bryant and May series. Women are being murdered in pubs, in a weird way. Bryant saw one of them before she died, but even the pub she went into isn't there any more…

It's still not great, but it's definitely a step up from White Corridor, the previous book. The unit is threatened with being shut down yet again, but this time rather than teasing us with it Fowler actually allows it to happen (though now we know there are more books to come). The murderer is found, but that isn't at all the whole story. There's a pleasing blend of good honest police work with Bryant's sideways approach to things.

But I've been in most of the pubs Fowler mentions, and he doesn't ever seem to catch the atmosphere, particularly the smells: a pub is just a pub, it seems, unless it has specific sorts of weird people in it.

Bryant is still annoying, casually offending people to no gain just because he's an old white man and can get away with it. Some of the other regulars are a bit more interesting, though none of their ongoing plots gets anything like a resolution. One external recurring character is brought into the unit, and while we're clearly meant to like him better as we get to know him the result really isn't consistent with the person he was before. The evidence gets increasingly and pleasingly baroque, but when all is revealed it's inevitably a disappointment, and the actions that started the investigation make very little sense in terms of the villains' overall goals. The idea that any woman unable to have children of her own must have a maternal instinct that will make her happy to look after a baby, well.

And there are the little stabby misuses of language that continue to annoy (and presumably Fowler was by this point too successful to submit to editing).

"When it comes to the lost icons of antiquity, you have a gullible buyers' market and plenty of unscrupulous salesmen willing to feed it."

No, the point is that it's a sellers' market, i.e. it's good for the sellers.

The pair followed a rough ziggurat back along Bryant's route

I just don't know what this is meant to be, unless perhaps "zig-zag".

I still don't love the series, but I'm at least re-engaged enough to want to continue with it.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog. ["As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases."]

Previous in series: White Corridor | Series: Bryant and May | Next in series: On the Loose

  1. Posted by Gus at 11:54pm on 21 July 2022

    Those roaming rough ziggurats are a hazardous nuisance and ought to be TNR'd.

Comments on this post are now closed. If you have particular grounds for adding a late comment, comment on a more recent post quoting the URL of this one.

Tags 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s 2010s 3d printing action advent of code aeronautics aikakirja anecdote animation anime army astronomy audio audio tech aviation base commerce battletech beer boardgaming book of the week bookmonth chain of command children chris chronicle church of no redeeming virtues cold war comedy computing contemporary cornish smuggler cosmic encounter coup covid-19 crime cthulhu eternal cycling dead of winter doctor who documentary drama driving drone ecchi economics en garde espionage essen 2015 essen 2016 essen 2017 essen 2018 essen 2019 essen 2022 essen 2023 existential risk falklands war fandom fanfic fantasy feminism film firefly first world war flash point flight simulation food garmin drive gazebo genesys geocaching geodata gin gkp gurps gurps 101 gus harpoon historical history horror hugo 2014 hugo 2015 hugo 2016 hugo 2017 hugo 2018 hugo 2019 hugo 2020 hugo 2022 hugo-nebula reread in brief avoid instrumented life javascript julian simpson julie enfield kickstarter kotlin learn to play leaving earth linux liquor lovecraftiana lua mecha men with beards mpd museum music mystery naval noir non-fiction one for the brow opera parody paul temple perl perl weekly challenge photography podcast politics postscript powers prediction privacy project woolsack pyracantha python quantum rail raku ranting raspberry pi reading reading boardgames social real life restaurant reviews romance rpg a day rpgs ruby rust scala science fiction scythe second world war security shipwreck simutrans smartphone south atlantic war squaddies stationery steampunk stuarts suburbia superheroes suspense television the resistance the weekly challenge thirsty meeples thriller tin soldier torg toys trailers travel type 26 type 31 type 45 vietnam war war wargaming weather wives and sweethearts writing about writing x-wing young adult
Special All book reviews, All film reviews
Produced by aikakirja v0.1