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