Bryant & May – Here We Go Again!

Bryant and May

Having finished the editing and proofs on ‘Bryant & May: England’s Finest’, the decrepit duo’s second volume of missing cases, which fills in the gaps between the investigations tackled in the novels, I’ve now turned to next year’s adventure and I’m already running late.

How so? Because this is a unique year, with two new B&Ms (‘The Lonely Hour’ got here in March, ‘England’s Finest’ arrives at the end of October), which means that next year’s novel should have already been started a month ago. But I was busy writing a standalone psychological thriller and needed to get that out of my head before I plunged into the London research for the new volume.

If that makes it seem like I was working on three books at once, the impression is a little false because what actually happens is that the ideas gestate over a long time period. The missing cases built themselves up over three years and could be dealt with piecemeal, the thriller came to me last September and the idea for the new novel was inspired by the current government mess this year (although rest assured, there will be no mention of Brexit).

So, the new novel will be titled ‘Oranges & Lemons’, and will pick up from the end of ‘The Lonely Hour’ – although for readers who have not read that volume by the time it comes out it can still be read without knowledge of the previous book.

Rest assured that everyone who came out of the last book alive will be present and back to full strength, even though the Peculiar Crimes Unit itself has gone. I’ve a raft of colourful new characters, including an oily politician and an annoyingly hipster helper, plus plenty of surprises.

One element of the story will be this.

The 12th century church St Sepulchre-Without-Newgate (ie just outside) is the largest of the City Of London churches. It’s also the musicians’ church associated with Sir Henry Wood, founder of the Proms, and features in the rhyme ‘Oranges And Lemons’, but there are macabre connections too…long associated with the Newgate prison, its Watch House had windows looking down into the graveyard, so that wardens could keep an eye out for the Resurrectionists who might be planning to body-snatch from it.

A tunnel in the church led into Newgate prison, and on the midnight before the executions, the sextant walked through the passageway and stood outside the cells of the condemned. There, he rang a bell twelve times and recited a warning prayer. The Newgate Bell can still be seen in the church.

In 1612 a tailor left an annual endowment to the church of 26s. 8d to ensure the bellman always rang the bell on the eve of execution days and again as the cart carrying the condemned left Newgate for Tyburn the next morning. The bell became a warning sound to those still living…

Now I just have to fill in the gaps. Don’t worry, I’m on it.

BTW, I’m loving this quote from FullyBooked on ‘The Lonely Hour’!

9 comments on “Bryant & May – Here We Go Again!”

  1. Jan says:

    if you ever remember where the place was with the standing stones inside the building that could be useful

  2. Ian Luck says:

    There is a church in Wales with standing stones in it – they are all carved with various writings, including the cryptic and fascinating Ogham, which I was told by a Welsh gentleman, was pronounced ‘OY-YAM’. Might be correct, or maybe he was just pulling the leg of a ‘Sais’. If that’s too far away, then I’m sure that the deliciously weird Mr Hawksmoor would have liked the idea of standing stones in one of his churches very much indeed.

  3. Jan says:

    Ian every Hawksmoor church in London contains a pyramid in some form. The Hawksmoor churches are fascinating.

    The pyramids probably shows his Masonic connections more than owt else . There’s a book been written by a guy called Anthony THORLEY about Wren and his pupils, who include Hawksmoor, trying to create a “spell” a sort of protection for the C of L using the churches they created after the Great Fire. It’s got a lot to do with numbers is about all I can really remember but it’s an interesting concept.

    The Ogham stones crop up in older churches in various parts of Wales there are a couple on the Llyn peninsula and and in West Wales. If I remember correctly the Ogham script has a connection with Ireland. Actually there’s a theory that a few of these stones may have been modified Roman remains but as the Romans never really had that much of a foothold in Wales and the Llyn in particular how true that theory really is I dunno.

  4. Ian Luck says:

    I love Hawksmoor’s churches – they all feel incredibly ‘wrong’ inside. It’s almost as if Hawksmoor had the idea of ‘sick building syndrome’ four hundred years before it was actually recognized as such, and deliberately designed and built his churches to disquiet. This tinkering with what some call ‘Psychetecture’ makes some of his churches daunting even before you get near them – St Annes, Limehouse, and Christ Church Spitalfields are the most forbidding. A friend of mine introduced me to these definitely sinister buildings many years before I read the brilliant, but unsettling novel by Peter Ackroyd. (Although I much prefer his novel ‘The House Of Doctor Dee’).

  5. Jan says:

    Ian yes you have touched on something there. I hadn’t thought of the Hawksmoor churches in quite those terms . There is something deeply wrong in the set up of those buildings. Dunno if this was deliberate or not.

  6. admin says:

    I’ve read up a lot on them and of course there’s the Ackroyd book (and documentary) – I can’t fit them into this book’s plan but might add them in…

  7. Ian Luck says:

    I expect it’s a subject that Arthur Bryant would most definitely have knowledge of, and an opinion on. And quite possibly, a tatty book about, on his shelf somewhere, sandwiched between ‘Fifty Cities In The United States That Nobody Has Visited’, and ‘Sport Fishing With Power Saws’. (Those two titles were created for a skit called ‘Join the book club!’, by the late, very great, George Carlin, by the way).

  8. Jan says:

    I know he wasn’t much of a favourite of yours but the Ian Sinclair work that Ackroyd acknowledges in “Hawksmoor” was better than the novel itself. Bernie and myself went out and found a lot of the places mentioned in “Lud Heat” which I think was the work and it they were interesting.

  9. Kevin Woolard says:

    Spoiler Alert Paragraph Five

Comments are closed.