Bryant & May Are Back in 13 Days (New Citrus Flavour)

Christopher Fowler
  In the history of the Bryant & May books one thing stands out; the author has always known how to throw a party. In fact, there has never been a new Bryant & May without a launch bash of some kind. My editor Simon Taylor makes a delightfully pertinent and mercifully short speech, and I get the beers in. I may not know how to network but I look after my friends. This year circumstances have changed, but I'm not holding a virtual launch. 'Virtual' means that something didn't happen, as in 'I virtually got pregnant.' And this is definitely happening. The book will appear, I'll do some interviews and perhaps put something on YouTube before raising a glass to you, the select but loyal few who 'get' these macabre bursts of laughter in the dark. Most people don't, which places you in the not unappealing category of 'smarter than the average crime reader but also a bit strange'. Own it and wear the badge with pride. A pertinent digression: John Carey has something interesting to say about writing comedically. 'Dickens is essentially a comic writer. The urge to conceal this, noticeable in some recent studies, can probably be traced to a suspicion that comedy, compared to tragedy, is light. Comedy is felt to be artificial and escapist; tragedy, toughly real. The opposite view seems more accurate. Tragedy is tender to man's dignity and self-importance, and preserves the illusion that he is a noble creature. Comedy uncovers the absurd truth, which is why people are so afraid of being laughed at in real life. Once Dickens starts laughing nothing is safe, from Christianity to dead babies.' Over the years the Bryant & May books have tried many different tactics to keep you engaged, and the series can be subdivided according to those tactics, so that say, 'Full Dark House', 'Seventy Seven Clocks', 'The Victoria Vanishes', 'On The Loose'/'Off The Rails' and 'The Burning Man' are sprawling 'grand opera'-style stories, with many disparate elements and ideas, while 'White Corridor', 'The Memory of Blood', 'The Invisible Code' and 'The Lonely Hour' are smaller scale human dramas. 'Oranges and Lemons' is a return to grand opera, even if it begins with an attack by fruit - it's the longest novel to date, set across a wide variety of London locations with a great many eccentric characters, and I'll be keeping this style for 'London Bridge Is Falling Down', the 20th book in the series (or the 18th if you're in America, as you didn't get the two 'missing cases' hardbacks). I just feel that the 20th should be a big story encompassing the birth of London and (perhaps) its death. The series will continue after that, but there'll be a bit of a change because you can't just keep getting bigger without all credibility fleeing the crime scene. And at some point I'll do a Bryant & May guide to London, I promise! (Above, the night version of the cover that got voted down by readers in favour of the day version)


4Matt (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 12:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I can't wait, i'm so excited. Just been reading some Father Brown mysteries to fill the time until The new B&M arrives. Throwing soup at a wall and all....

Cornelia Appleyard (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 13:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oranges and Lemons, followed by London Bridge is Falling Down?

I remember the first poem I encountered at school

'Trot, mare trot, or I'll be late
And Billing will have closed his gate'

By Eleanor Farjeon, I think.

Looking forward to all of them, inspired by verse, or not.

Christopher Fowler Fri, 10/07/2020 - 15:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I've just realised that the title of the 21st book (I should live that long) is also a nursery rhyme. Entirely subconscious, I promise you!

Jo W (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 15:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I voted for the night version as darkness is always more sinister, but I'm willing to put up with the day version. Pennies all saved and ready.
A boon of lockdown is that the money set aside for meals out,theatre visits and day trips, has been diverted to on-line book buying, so no new outfits have been needed. I have even saved on the cost of make-up as half my face is covered with a mask during food shopping trips. ( A big improvement, I think.)
Ok,back to counting down the days.............

Brian Evans (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 16:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I'm staggered Admin. When did you virtually get pregnant? This is a bolt out of the blue. Would you feel better if you talked to us about it ? Don't worry, we're all broadminded to the point of obscenity on here.

SteveB (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 17:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Well in my case I dont know about smart but strange I guess that fits...

Trace Turner (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 17:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I got my own library card at the age of 8 or so, and if that wasn't exciting enough, I joined the library's Mystery Readers Club. You were given a list of recommended books and a club badge to wear. The badge is long gone and sorely missed. I would proudly wear one that said 'smarter than the average crime reader but also a bit strange'. Are they available yet? Please put me down for two so I can have a spare.

Debra Matheney (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 17:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just checked. It is ordered on Amazon UK as I can't wait for the American edition. Will have a G and T when it arrives. Can hardly wait!
Have any of you heardn of Duchess Golblatt? I suggest you check her out as her eccentricity should be appealing.

Adam (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 17:57

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Excellent news! Ordered and raring to go.

Gary Hart (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 19:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

So, sorry, but does that mean we're all getting badges or not?

Derek J Lewis (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 20:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think there's more definition to the "day" cover but where's the rain? There should always be rain. What do I know, I was a fan of the David Frankland covers. Have a nice weekend everyone

Jan (not verified) Fri, 10/07/2020 - 23:59

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Chris comedy is harder to do than tragedy it's got be quicker, lighter + defter to really work perfectly and you do get it right. I never realised till I re read the B+Ms in the early weeks of Lock down how right you had got it. I had always rushed the novels before to see what I could see but rereading them they really make me laff.

Another thing you never get till you get it is that essentially comedy and tragedy sit so close to each other. Some really horribly gruesome stuff I have had to do @ work @ times have ended up with me laughing. I'm not going to give examples cos it's just not right but in the end one way or another you tumble to it you laugh because it distances you but makes you know you are still a real (semi!) functioning person but with a sick sense of humour. Tragedy sort of does the same thing inside out and makes you appreciate fate even though you might lack individual sympathy.

Hope "oranges + Lemons" does ok.

Hope u r feeling better

snowy (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 00:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

A badge might be tricky... but...

*strokes chin*

If we take what is given and zhush it up with a bit of Soviet retro-chic and a format switch, then release it as CC BY-NC with some DIY PoD it might just work.

*rolls up sleeves*

Wayne Mook (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 00:27

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Splendid news. Still behind on my reading. Sometimes I wonder if the piles ever move.


Ian Luck (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 03:23

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Was it Edmund Kean on his deathbed, who observed:
"Dying is easy. Comedy is hard"?

Dawn Andrews (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 04:46

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Dark is always best, yield to the night I say in covers, life and comedy! This site has the best comments, idiosyncratic, quirky and meandering, very like Arthur. I want a black badge with a midnight duck on it.

Helen Martin (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 05:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Let's see, black letter to give a feel of the medieval, lettered on black (Dawn & Jan) but no duck midnight or otherwise. Race you, Snowy ('cept that I'm going to bed right now so can't get to it till tomorrow.) Could do a twenties theme but it doesn't fit to any of B&M's periods. It's a lot of words for one badge - hm. In a code? Just consonants? Bed first.

Ed DesCamp (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 05:42

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Snowy - at conclusion of chin stroking, please advise planned availability date for said Badge of Smart but Strange? I've cleared a spot on my lapel by removing the Bluebottle and Bloodnock Brigade pin.

Mike (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 06:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If we have an SBS badge people will avoid offending us, thinking we're part of the SAS.

John Howard (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 07:15

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oh yes please.... 2 badges over here guv. Love the idea.

Christopher Fowler Sat, 11/07/2020 - 11:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was a huge fan of the David Frankland covers but he retired, I'm told. An enamel PCU badge would be nice, possibly with a hidden cypher in it...

snowy (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 12:19

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Well the first draft works, needs a lot of tidying up, but it is never going to make a badge, [not even if your wardrobe is stuffed with 1970s lapels].

It would work as a A3 poster, A4 poster, tee-shirt, tote bag etc.

So... draw at A3, release as A4 for you lot to home print, [anybody wants bigger smaller can just ask].


A3 Local print shop £5 or less
A4 Print at home £0.20
Tee-shirt online supplier £11
Tote online supplier £7
Mug probably too small!

[Enamel badges are really hard to design, the origination charges are quite high, that have to be spread over a min order of 100+. It is do-able but not very easy, himself would have to set-up and run an online shop.]

Brooke (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 13:58

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Would just like to have O&L sometime before December, please.

Wayne Mook (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 16:12

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen, Shouldn't that be 'Jan & Dawn'?

Then they could set up a Surf Guitar Beat Combo and do a theme for The PCU, something along the lines of Dragnet, Peter Gunn or Johnny Staccato, plus other great discs, such as Surfing Underground and The Fleet Neat Beat. I'd definitely crank up my gramophone.

Snowy is a there link to your design?


snowy (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 16:50

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Not just yet, [I'm printing proofs at the moment still needs a few tweaks, and then I need to upload it to a file host/ post a link to the host and then the post will need to be moderation approved.]

Two versions I think, one more like the design inspiration for hanging and a sleek version that is less fussy, for fans of minimalism.

snowy (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 19:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

For those that can find hidden links, a preview of what the files would look like.

Helen Martin (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 21:30

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I can do you a round deal that will fit in those button making machines with the clasp on the back. Some of the t shirt places will do them. I don't know how to post it for people to print off, though.

Jan (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 23:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Wots all this wild talk of badges about then? I've lost the thread of this thread.......

snowy (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 23:34

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

H, I can walk you through posting it to a free online host, once you have a draft in png/jpg/svg etc.

I'm completely stuck for a badge, stegnography doesn't work, wrong letter count. A calligram is too big and an ambigram beyond my skills.

[All I've got left in the ideas bin is something exploiting the symmetry of the 'S' or a punch-out from 'Soho Devil' or another image by Keith that I can't find atm - [it's the Avengers style one], slightly worried the 25mm dia. canvas will be too small for it to work?]

[I'm also concerned that the economics of button badges is steeper than I was expecting:

Qty. 1 £3.50
Qty, 10 £7.00
Qty. 100 £22.00

But at 22p a badge, it becomes something Goldsboro or Others might be prevailed upon to chuck a couple in with every signed book, as an exclusive?]

snowy (not verified) Sat, 11/07/2020 - 23:39

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Jan. Helen and I are doodling/having an Art-off.

The non hidden link to a preview of my poor attempt is:


[It's a file host and not a gallery, so when you land there you have to download the file and then open it up from your Downloads folder.]

Linwood Hines (not verified) Sun, 12/07/2020 - 01:50

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If one had pre-ordered the new (signed) from The Mysterious Bookshop (NY) way back before the plague - would one be able to expect it here - in say a month? Re your confession that you've denied us in the US two (above), how would one be able to get them? I have busied myself waiting for the new one, re-sided the house, painted more than one human is expected to paint to "complete" the damn siding, and been patient, and not killed anyone (yet). Please help the innocent people....

Linwood Hines (not verified) Sun, 12/07/2020 - 01:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

And, I have set aside a new tin of pipe tobacco just for the reading. I wouldn't want the tin to rust from waiting....

Helen Martin (not verified) Sun, 12/07/2020 - 03:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Okay, Snowy. I'll work on it tomorrow after I've dealt with my responsibilities for a Sunday am. Should it be generic or Oranges & Lemons specific?

Jan (not verified) Sun, 12/07/2020 - 06:47

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think I have rambled on about this before but in many ways even though it's a very different B+M novel "White Corridor" is a particular favourite of mine. Not one of me recent 're reads but it was good in that it split B+M from the actual scene of the crime to an extent and opened up the action to the group of junior officers. Was nicely constructed. Took the action well away from London which was a change.

I never read it to the end for some reason at my first attempt and I can't quite remember why but the gardening book was probably the best actual mystery the cleverest construct of the mystery type novel in a way. I only saw the answer to it because of a fluke it was v clever.

With the next, next new one would you consider opening up the action in a similar way to "White Corridor" so the team can get a more proactive role in the investigation? Let's see what happens if someone else jumps into the driving seat for a while.

Say if Meera or Colin and Colin turn something up which turns the investigation?

I get it that Arthur toddles off to take a look at the esoteric side of things then returns to the more mundane and does the solving but in reality what often happens is someone in a junior role or an off team unit turns up a pertinent fact (often resulting from another not always related investigation) and this radically changes the whole way the process is unfolding.

It might even be a sneaky way to introduce a temporary character to shake up the relationships within the unit.

snowy (not verified) Sun, 12/07/2020 - 10:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Linwood, for the benefit of humanity, [and to save the local wildlife from being pelted with empty paint cans]:

'The Mysterious Bookshop' have copies of 'England's Finest' (Short Stories Book 2) in stock, but not 'London's Glory' (Short Stories Book 1), [or at least that is what a little light looking up tells me]. Or if that doesn't suit, there is always 'The Big River Shop'.

Helen, your choice, it's hard enough as it is without limiting your options by trying to theme it to a single book.

Anybody can join in the folly, all you need is pen, paper and the camera on your phone, [designs presented in mixed media using pasta shapes and lentils, while welcome; would be a little difficult to production-ise.]

Wayne Mook (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 00:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was thinking of creating a turnip based design, myself.

Now where is my recipe for Swede dumpling and sausages?


snowy (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 01:13

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As long as you don't use it as an excuse to carve the turnip into the shape of a 'thingy', you'll probably get away with it.

Bruce Rockwood (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 02:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Why is there r five month wait for the U.S. edition? I used to order from Amazon.UK but it says on their website not deliverable to the U.S.

Ian Luck (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 07:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If there are enamel pins about, I'll buy them. I just got some absolutely beautiful ones from America. I dare not look at 'Etsy'. There are far too many nice ones for sale there.

Dawn Andrews (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 08:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Me also for a smart but strange lapel badge. Although in my case its a bit obvious..... Being mistaken for SAS is great for getting seats in restaurants, I've seen it done, lived in Hereford back in the mists of time.

snowy (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 10:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

To recap, to put a badge of any sort into peoples hands, it requires:

1. A design

2. A manufacturer

3. A distribution system

Where we are at the moment:

Manufacturing, looks like all roads lead to China on this. Reasonable prices, reasonable min order qty.

Distribution, various options here:

Exclusive, you can only get a badge in person in the pub after a signing, [flutter your eyelashes at him and hope he gives you one].

One drop, whole batch goes to Amazon and they fulfill individual orders, this requires lots of tedious online form filing and setting up seller accounts at the beginning but then runs itself.

Cottage industry, set up an Etsy/Ebay account, stuff badges into envelopes and send them out once a week.

Design, ANYBODY who can lift a pencil can pitch in here, designs can always be given a digital clean-up. [Advice on posting images will appear here later]. Any/All ideas equally welcome. But remember, the canvas for a badge is 25mm, so designs need to be bold and simple. Your idea might be too complex to be a badge, but it could be a tee-shirt!

snowy (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 11:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)



[Must be the weather!]


If people want the smart/strange switch, we could go lenticular!

<i> That opens up a whole world of possibilities......</i>

snowy (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 14:04

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

These are embarrassingly rough sketches, top simple button badge, bottom the two images for a lenticular badge which would flick between images when tilted, [the lower one is a nod to 'Rune'].


[If you have arrived here from the future, the images will have vanished 31 days after this comment was posted.]

Christopher Fowler Mon, 13/07/2020 - 14:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Nice! Although the A/W for the top one belongs to Mr Keith Page.
Our studio once designed a 12-layer lenticular for the SF film 'Johnny Mnemonic' and printed 12 quads. The process was incredibly expensive. I just gave the sole surviving lenticular to a friend (too big for a wall, too difficult to light).

snowy (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 16:55

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

That's the one snag, it would need Keith's blessing. then it could be redrawn, [properly this time], and released as a print ready file for readers to take to an on-line/high street printer themselves. [This is by far the simplest solution all round].

While you're here, and not in any way connected to the topic, <b>[But you are normally <i>such</i> a complete slave to relevance, what has gone wrong? <i>Ed.</i>]</b>, Re: the missing KW progs, have you considered getting in touch with Adam Endacott? If he doesn't know off the top of his head, he would be <b>very</b> interested in hearing from you! [A quick looking up will reveal why].

I'm not going to post his email, but it is not hard to find. In civilian life he is the Communications Director and Archivist at the CIAT, his name plus those four letters will take you to the page you need.

[12 Layers... eek! Stiil it was probably the only thing about the whole film that was worth looking at twice, Dolphin! I just laughed at that point; it probably looks horribly retro now!]

Wayne Mook (not verified) Mon, 13/07/2020 - 17:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have a soft spot for Johnny Mnemonic, really is potty.

Splendid design Snowy. I'd buy one for sure.

12 layers, good grief.

I actually misread that as Admin Endacott. As if there could be another Admin.


Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 00:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Well, I've done a rough of a 2.25" diameter with the the first part around the circle and the second part down the middle (but/ also/ a bit/ strange) and a lemon and orange on each side. There's PCU at the bottom. I'm a calligrapher not an artist so I didn't even try drawing anything else. Besides the sentence refers to the readers not the staff. I can send it if I can figure out how to make my scanner work. Not a computer person, either.

Ed DesCamp (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 05:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Helen, I'd love an image!
Snowy, what would the two layer lenticular cost?

Dawn Andrews (not verified) Tue, 14/07/2020 - 06:21

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Love the image Snowy, and would like to see Helen's also. Also have trouble with scanners Helen, fortunately my other half is good with them.