Backstories To The Bryant & May Books No.5
The Memory Of Blood
On a rainswept London night, the wealthy, unscrupulous Robert Kramer hosts a party in his penthouse just off Trafalgar Square. But something is wrong. The atmosphere is uncomfortable, the guests are on edge. And when Kramer’s new young wife goes to check on their baby boy, she finds the nursery door locked from the inside.
Breaking in, the Kramers are faced with an open window, an empty cot, and a grotesque antique puppet of Mr Punch lying on the floor. It seems that young Noah Kramer was thrown from the building, but the child was strangled, and the marks of the puppet’s hands are clearly on his throat…what’s more, there was a witness.
My first job took me past Pollock’s Toy Museum every morning. It’s a shop in Whitfield Street that still sells toy theatres, something for which I always had a fascination. This book was born from my discovery that London once had a grand guignol theatre like the one in Paris – I even found the scripts for the sinister plays that were performed there, and thought it would make a great basis for a novel. The original French plays were built around shocking stage effects, but in England the censorious Lord Chamberlain would not allow such things on stage, so our scripts were written to include more mental cruelty (once again this shows that censors haven’t a clue what they’re doing).
It was a great background for a novel, and one I’m not aware of having been used before.
‘Even after several thousand pages of B&M spread over nine books, Fowler still leaves the reader desperate for more. This one is even more self-contained and enjoyable than usual. – The Londonist
The Invisible Code
As Arthur Bryant’s memoirs are published, he starts to feel his age. But a case is coming that will change his life. A young woman called Amy sits in a quiet London church, and is found dead in her pew after the service. But no-one has been near her. She has no marks on her body and the cause of death is unknown. The only odd thing is that she had a red cord tied around her left wrist.
I had long wanted to write something partly set in a London church – after all, along with theatres, which they resemble, there an unchanging element of London life. Here I had the perfect setting of St Bride’s Church, just off Fleet Street, which proved to have a fascinating history I could use. Soon I had Bryant & May investigating Hellfire clubs, class warfare, secret codes and the history of Bedlam. The trick was not to overload the narrative with history, but to balance the fun with genuinely intriguing facts, some of which were culled from books, others from my personal knowledge of the area.
‘As before in these quirky narratives, the reader is taken on a fascinating (and often bizarre) journey which is notably difficult to read in short measures – the insidious Mr Fowler demands our total attention. Just remember that if you unwisely start reading the book two stops before your destination…’ – Crimetime Magazine