A Song Puzzle & News Update


In the new Bryant & May novel ‘Hall of Mirrors’, the chapter headings feature song titles (this graphic courtesy of Twitter’s delightful @maliceafore) which are evocative of the nineteen sixties – the book is set at the end of that tumultuous decade as it overdoses on itself and declines.

To amuse myself I sometimes hide puzzles in the books – interestingly very few readers have called me out on them, although there were some knowing winks about the character Steffi Vesta. In ‘Hall of Mirrors’ the song titles have an anomaly, but I’m not telling you what it is. In the other novels I have squeezed in Dickens jokes, Shakespeare jokes, odd lines from old radio shows, character names from forgotten movies, you name it. This time the puzzle is pretty simple, but no-one has yet correctly guessed the answer (to be fair, the book is only just out).

Meanwhile, this website has now been properly updated. Try the links on the right and you’ll find the history of Bryant & May, lots of other books, my biography and a link to Penguin (it seems a bit slow but that’s Penguin’s end, not mine).

Coming up next is my podcast in mid-April on the charming podcast site Betterknown, in which writers select six things they wish were better known and one thing they wish was less well-known. Check them out in the above link.

I’ll be in Stratford-Upon-Avon for their literary festival on April 28th, where Oliver Teale and I will be discussing British authors who’ve gone off the map. Join us if you can – there’s no nicer time to go to Stratford. On June 1st I’ll be in Cardiff at their festival – more news on that a little nearer the time.

Meanwhile, if there’s anything you’d like to see covered in the blog, let me know and I’ll be happy to add new articles based on your suggestions.


18 comments on “A Song Puzzle & News Update”

  1. SteveB says:

    Hmmm the John Barry ad track being an instrumental?
    I understand it’s Admin’s birthday by the way, have a great one.
    I’m catching up with you fast 😉

  2. Debra Matheney says:

    Happy Birthday! Can hardly wait to read the new one. Please keep them coming. Hopefully, no more eye issues for you.
    In my old age, I have become a literal reader so I probably won;t get any of the puzzles. I majored in English Lit and used to be able to spend hours pulling apart texts. As I age, I find I want to move on to the next book. So many of them and so little time.
    Wishing you a prosperous and peaceful year.

  3. admin says:

    Yes, I feel like that. My book purchasing addiction is reaching dizzy new heights but I spend most of every day and evening writing. To read or to write?

  4. Helen Martin says:

    A very happy birthday and best wishes for decades more. I see now that I should have done the puzzle envelope when you asked for it as you’d likely have it by now. I have a great deal of difficulty with deadlines.
    The answer to your question is: read until the reading gives you a brilliant idea then write it. Repeat.

  5. Peter Tromans says:

    Many Happy Returns!

    Apologies for being a bit late, but have been catching up after enjoying much of last week at the Oxford Lit Fest. Hope Stratford-upon-Avon goes well and that I can attend some of it.

  6. Jan says:

    Happy birthday

  7. Jan says:

    Happy birthday Chris

  8. Ken Mann says:

    Still catching up, but I’ll get to it. It might contribute to my quest to find the most sixties piece of music ever written. Current front runners are “Metti una sera a cena” by Ennio Morricone and “Hot Pants” by Alan Parker and Alan Hawkshaw.

  9. Brian Evans says:

    Always one behind, I have just finished “Wild Chamber”. I so enjoyed it, and I never guessed whodunit.

    Talking of puzzles and jokes in your books, I did wonder if Sgt Kemp-Bird was a nod to the character of Sgt Kent-Bird, the long-suffering copper in the St Trinian’s films, played by Lloyd Lamble.

  10. J F Bishop says:

    The odd one out in the chapter headings is surely ‘Cards on the Table’, isn’t it??? You call ‘Hall of Mirrors’ your ‘Agatha Christie book’, and ‘Cards’ is one of the Poirot novels…..and not a song. It’s also a story featuring the mysterious killing of the host at a social event (though a dinner and card party, not a weekend), which has a list of characters including a lady crime writer (the first substantial appearance of Ariadne Oliver), and where the peripheral plots include an attempted murder by drowning (though in the Christie story it is unsuccessful).

  11. admin says:

    Oh we have a winner! JF Bishop, you know your music!
    I thought ‘Cards on the Table’ sounded like a ‘Tears on your Pillow’-type torch song, so I slipped it in there, but of course it’s an Agatha Christie weekend murder. You are the only one to have got it right. (There’s been a lot of interest on Twitter).

  12. Mike says:

    I was looking at each title individually to find what was wrong.
    No wonder I didn’t get it. duh

  13. Korri Lee says:

    Having found ma’sen deep into the new-ish Halls of Mirrors and luvin’it, I see the chapter titled Albatross which is from a poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner A heavy weight etc Ah! well a-day! what evil looks
    Had I from old and young!
    Instead of the cross, the Albatross
    About my neck was hung.
    and certainly not a song Maybe this is your Easter Egg? I wonder

  14. lynchiefromab says:

    Just finished the wonderful “Hall Of Mirrors” in the early hours and I too was going to go for the John Barry “Sunsilk” ad being the anomaly, but I see you have a winner with “Cards on the Table”. Not being a fan of the Queen Of Crime, I’d never have got that one in a zillion years, so well done to J F Bishop.

    By the by, that’s the 1st in the Bryant & May series I’ve read in Kindle – instead of paperback or hardback. I know it’s daft, but it felt kinda weird. Still a joy to read though, thank you.

  15. J F Bishop says:

    Truthfully, I just recognized the Poirot – my musical knowledge is not that good, though it helps being old enough to be able to hum about three quarters of them! Even so, for over a dozen chapters before I reached Cards on the Table, I thought the answer was going to be Albatross, as that was the only one involving John Cleese as a cinema usherette………………………

    And of course, ‘Mirrors’ was a delight: I’m now looking forward to a more leisurely re-read to hunt for other hidden treasures to go with Dame Maud Hackshaw

  16. Layla says:

    Cards on the Table is an Agatha Christie mystery, rather than a song.

  17. Layla says:

    Gutted, someone else got to it before me! I just finished the book today.

  18. Helen Martin says:

    But is there a song called Albatross? (I am waiting on my Amazon delivery of Hall of Mirrors.)

Comments are closed.