‘Strange Tide’ Appears In US

Bryant and May Books


‘Strange Tide’ just came out in America (the books are running a little behind the UK) and the reviews have been terrific. As I’m at home with a gruesome cold, this is a great lift for me. This just came in from the New York Journal of Books;

Due to the ineptness of captain and crew, a boat carrying refugees catches fire and sinks. Only young Ali Bensaud survives, taking with him the silver chain and crescent amulet of his friend Ishmael who drowns.

In the years to come, Ali will achieve his dream. He reaches England, finding a partner, a young woman as cool and determined as he. Together, they become a pair to be reckoned with, walking the tightrope of illegality, dancing on the edge of criminal activity . . . and making a mint.

On the ancient embanked wall of the Thames, where the now inaccessible access to the river called the Queen’s Stairs is located, a young woman drowns, chained to a stanchion by a silver necklet bearing a crescent. Only her footprints lead to the body, but her wounds suggest murder. Her name is Lynsey Dalladay, a well-to-do young woman with everything, and nothing, to live for. She is also the lover of Alistair Thornberry, once known as Ali Bensaud.

At the Peculiar Crimes Division, Senior Detective John May becomes the literal caretaker of his partner Arthur Bryant, who is suffering from a bizarre form of dementia. May also leads the investigation of the “Bride in the Tide” as the papers are calling this latest murder.

In a very short time, the former Ali Bensaud and the two senior detectives of the Peculiar Crimes Unit will be on a collision course.

May gets permission to bring Bryant to the unit offices, providing he doesn’t let him go out on a case. As many times as not, Bryant eludes his partner and goes his own way, struggling to retrieve those myriad bits of information he’s stored in his brain before it dissolves into useless nothingness.

In his lucid moments, Bryant believes the Thames hold the answer.

“The Thames holds the collective memory of the city and its dwellers . . . it’s a sacred river granting death and rebirth.”

He’s certain he can find the reason why Lyndsey died where she did, and who assisted her in expiring in a way appearing suicide—if he can only retain his memory long enough—and while he’s at it, since his doctor has already written him off as incurable, he may just have to heal himself . . . if he can remember to do it.

There will be more murders. Bryant finds himself swept away in memories not his own, to other times in London’s history yielding clues he can use in the present. Ali Bensaud will become their chief suspect, but is he really a murderer, this young man determined to live out his dream of success and wealth? Or is he merely another victim of a very cruel and stealthy killer?

“London is the most observed city in the world, and the only place where a killer may ply his grisly trade unseen is on the river and its shore. . . . Three bodies pulled out of the river in three days. It’s not exactly our finest hour, is it?”

In the midst of a detective’s anxiety over the loss of his faculties and his partner’s concern for his old friend, John May will soon admit the truth about his failing partner: that “in the midst of winter, there is within him an invincible summer.” Though Arthur Bryant may be walking in the Valley of Death, he’s doing it armed with “a pint of beer, a pork pie, and a Batman comic,” for the most senior of the senior detectives has the ghosts of the Thames on his side.

There’s a great deal of historic lore, superstition, and information about the river, making this latest entry in the Bryant and May, Peculiar Crimes Unit series perhaps the best so far. The two men are fighting two foes: an intangible one more formidable than the Grim Reaper, and a human with no consideration for life.

A Strange Tide is full of those Bryant-May moments their fans have come to love and expect: witticisms, ironies, and fanciful turns of phrase paired with informative digressions inevitably leading to cogent conclusions. The two may be getting up in years, but they always prove they get better with age.  Here’s hoping award-winning author Christopher Fowler will continue writing of their adventures for some time to come.

 The piece was written by Toni V. Sweeney, the author of The Adventures of Sinbad and The Kan Ingan Archives series.

9 comments on “‘Strange Tide’ Appears In US”

  1. Brian Evans says:

    Wot-no “spoiler alert” !

    Silly boy, coming back from the Arctic conditions of Estonia. Have you never heard the expression-“Winter Draws On”?

  2. Bill says:

    I read it over the weekend; a very enjoyable two days! I liked your send-up of a certain pompous and, in my opinion, over-rated writer who repeats himself book after book after book after book- until one’s interest just peters out…

  3. Brooke says:

    Yesterday I stumbled upon a research paper on super-aging. No, it’s not about the horrors of an aging population in the developed world. This research, from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH–one the States’ premier medical institutions), reports that some older adults demonstrate memory and cognitive abilities equal to the 20-40 somethings. Dubbed “super agers,” these adults maintain efficient hub neural networks that aid communications between different parts of the brain. I though immediately of Arthur.

    In “Strange Tide” Arthur is the epitome of the super-ager; he’s resilient when facing his personal setbacks, he’s curious and attacks problems–even if he does so in somewhat crooked ways. And he’s empathetic –well after his own fashion. Long may he live!

    BTW–I still think the cover of the US edition is inferior to the UK edition. I’ve seen Strange Tide on shelves and the book just looks lost. I imagine the economics don’t work for the US publishers or you would have retained the UK graphics. If you can, I beg you to keep the graphics consistent. US publishers don’t understand the genre or its multifaceted audience.

  4. Strange Tide was my Christmas gift to myself, ordered last spring as soon as publication was announced in the UK. I’m resigned to the long wait until your books reach the US, but at my age (a few years short of Bryant and May) time is of the essence. This is one of your best; thank you for giving Arthur a reprieve. He gave me hope that if his brain is still working, perhaps mine is too and I may survive the next four years. I’m sure you know why that is important to me; I don’t want to go out during the administration of He Who Must Not Be Named. Please take care of yourself and get over the gruesome cold…we all need the next book!

  5. admin says:

    Thank you Adele – happily you won’t have long to wait for the next volume, ‘Wild Chamber’, out in the UK on March 25th and in the US next year.

  6. Lee Ann says:

    I just finished reading Strange Tide and Paperboy. I enjoyed them both and found it interesting about the bits of your life, like the tide schedule, that have made it into your books.

    ps – Somehow not surprised that you were a Mott fan.

  7. Sharon Chandler says:

    Mr. Fowler: I just finished Strange Tide, as a rule I’m a fast reader, with your books I force myself to take my time to enjoy your storyline. I had put my name on the waiting list of our local library months ago, was like a kid at Christmas when the notice came that it was my turn. Thank you for sharing your stories.



  8. admin says:

    Thrilled to be able to make you feel like a kid at Christmas, Sharon!

  9. Cathy says:

    Dear Mr. Fowler. I don’t know remember when or why I picked up my first Bryant and May book, but I am so grateful that I did. I love them. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am when a new one is published here in the States. The problem is that I then read it far too quickly and feel bereft when I’m finished. I love those men. Having read every book, it seems as though I know them now, so I laugh that much harder or feel that much sadder. I keep trying to read excerpts from Strange Tide out loud to my daughter, because they delight me so. Sadly, she now sees that look in my eyes and flees the room. She laughed the first time I read the sentence about Bryant: “He had somehow managed to turn himself around inside his pajamas”, but she soon wearied of me. I am laughing now, just writing about it. Your descriptions, sentence structure, plots, characters – they’re all wonderful. I had a friend who was 97 when she died this year. Her local library brought her several books a week, and she would tell me which ones she liked, which ones she had to stop reading. We often spent time trying to put into words what makes a well written book. I mention this because Bryant and May books are so well written. They are pure pleasure to read.

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