The Next Bryant & May Novel Is Finished
The sun was starting to set here in Barcelona – it will set almost an hour earlier by the end of this month, but for now it’s still 27C outside, even though some Spaniards have decided it’s autumn and are wearing black, maroon and grey puffa-jackets. I put the wine in the fridge (Spanish wines are the world’s best kept secret. I love Jean Leon). I cooked myself a dinner of salmon and salad laced with fresh Sicilian lemons, the kind you can make a salad out of (use only the thick pith, shave it like ceviche, add olive oil and garlic). And then I went out onto the balcony to put one final sentence on the end of the book.
Bryant and May will return.
I can’t tell you how satisfying that is. But how many more times will I do it? I admire Ian Rankin, Ann Cleves and Lee Child; they know they’ve created memorable characters readers will be drawn back to again and again. Reacher, Stanhope and Rebus are adaptable, filmic creations. Bryant & May, not so much. Plus, my sales are a thousand leagues behind those dudes. We all know and like each other; it’s just that I crick my neck looking up to them. Yet I plod on.
The simple joy of writing these adventures (and that’s what they are in the most old-fashioned sense) keeps me going. In ‘Oranges & Lemons’ they’re dealing with two new temporary members of staff, a clever murderer, assorted academics and idiots, a new cat, impossible deaths – oh, and May is undergoing a life-threatening operation to remove the bullet in his chest. So there’s been a lot for me to keep track of.
This is the 19th Bryant & May book, and will arrive next June, after the 2019 double whammy of ‘The Lonely Hour’ and ‘England’s Finest’, the latter out next month.
At some point I do ask myself how long I can keep all these skittles in the air, mixing nostalgia and the arcane with modern ideas – ‘Oranges & Lemons’ is about the confusion caused by fake news.
The answer is; as long as I and readers enjoy the experience. Ideally I’ll stop before I pass Mr Bryant’s age!