The Confusion Of Numbers

Bryant and May

Sadly the US publication of ‘Oranges & Lemons’ has had to be moved back slightly because the American printers were hit by COVID and everything is delayed. It’ll be available at the start of January.

The confusion concerning the order and numbering of the Bryant & May books has been going on for years now. I thought it was all very clear-cut, but it appeared to cause puzzlement with publishers and readers alike. Stateside there were only Kindle versions of ‘London’s Glory’ and ‘England’s Finest’, so they didn’t go into the numbering system. Either Americans don’t care for printed volumes of short stories all by the same author or I don’t command the kind of weight needed to sell them.

I count every book that first came out in hardback, and both of the Bryant & May missing case collections did, in stunning editions, which makes ‘Oranges & Lemons’ number 19, with ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ the 20th volume and the end of another arc (these arcs probably only exist in my devious mind, but help me to shape an overall narrative to the adventures of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

Although the books roughly divide into story arcs involving long-running battles with the government, they all stand alone with the possible exception of ‘On The Loose’ and ‘Off The Rails’, which benefit a little from being read together.

Each novel is a different kind of mystery, although there are several whodunnits and locked room puzzles. Some are what used to be called capers, the kind of books the wonderful Donald E Westlake often wrote. There are several categories I haven’t covered yet and a couple of them are coming up next. Outside of all these was the graphic novel beautifully drawn by Mr Keith Page, and there will probably be a Bryant & May guide to London at some point in the future.

So if that’s the numbering now sorted out once and for all, are we all on the same page?

33 comments on “The Confusion Of Numbers”

  1. Jo W says:

    Still haven’t got a copy of Oranges and Lemons yet, as I was going up to town a few weeks ago,but ended up being detained at the NHS’s pleasure instead.However,a week ago I was let out early,for good behaviour and hope to make the short journey to town later this week. (Thinks…. after all this trouble it had better be worth it, Mr. Fowler!). 😉

  2. Peter T says:

    The only way to win this one is to put some sequencing information in the title or the cover art. It could be in a secret code. Perhaps, it’s already there?

  3. Paul C says:

    Agree that Donald E Westlake was a wonderful writer – esp the Dortmunder series about a gang of unlucky crooks:
    try ‘The Hot Rock’ (also a pretty good film) or ‘The Bank Shot’ (not such a good film).

    He could do hardboiled too : the screenplay of ‘The Grifters’ is superb and the Parker novels such as Point Blank
    (writing as Richard Stark).

  4. Bernard says:

    Thank you for the nod to Donald Westlake (a.k.a Richard Stark, etc.). Dortmunder is a brilliant creation, the Parker series displays a very different style, and he never fails to produce interesting characters and bizarre plot twists.

  5. Bernard says:

    …should have said “he never failed to produce…”

  6. Brooke says:

    (huge sigh…imitating snowy). No, it is not sorted.
    “…Americans don’t care….” do you mean readers in the US? As opposed to residents of Canada?
    We do care but .readers have to know the collection is available. EF had no marketing/reviews that I could find. Both London’s Glory and England’s Finest are available in hard copy to US readers; EF through Amazon and other online distributors but LG now costs over $100 USD.. Fortunately I purchased the latter in UK. I imagine US readers just tire of waiting and get your books through resellers or UK–depressing credits for US sales.
    One last cranky comment…nothing is printed in US; it’s all done in PRC.
    I’m sorry your US publisher/editor are so duffus.

  7. admin says:

    I found London’s Glory in hardback for just over £40 by going to the UK Amazon site, and that price drops to around £18 on certain UK sites.

    I asked my New York editor about printing and she assures me it’s printed there.

  8. In a normal year, I’d have spent the summer of 2020 in England, and snatched up Oranges & Lemons in one of the Oxford bookshops. Now, stuck in California with Covid keeping me home and fires keeping me inside, I learn that I won’t even have a new visit with Peculiar Crimes to keep me happy. This is all doing my own writing a lot of good, you understand, but I’m not sure it’s helping my mental health.

  9. Mike says:

    I just found it on ABE at £22 unsigned, £59.00 signed.
    Postage to America seems to be about £32.00 on average.
    Can’t find anyone offering the rare cover of Full Dark House.
    If your books keep going up like that I might sell my collection and have a couple of months in the Seychelles 🙂

  10. Brooke says:

    I’m with you, Mike (except for the Seychelles bit). Wish I’d purchased The Soho Devil when it was just $100 usd.

  11. nick lewin says:

    Nick , i did not know there was a rare cover for Full Dark House ?.

  12. Debra Matheney says:

    I don’t wait and order from UK every time when the books are published there. I don’t un derstand why we in US can’t have same publication date. I adored the latest. How could I wait for January??

  13. snowy says:

    You are looking in the wrong market.

    FDH with the mistake cover £9.00
    EF £8.00
    O&L £13.91
    Casebook £19.99
    Casebook signed £49.99

    [P&P extra on all above]

    Dealers list on multiple platform, Abe tends to have a much higher markup than the same item listed on a well known auction site.

  14. Peter T says:

    As I’ve written previously, Blackwell’s most often beat the Amazon-Abe empire on price, though delivery may take a few days longer. Many of their ‘market place’ items are sent from their North American associates. They list all of the B&M series.

  15. Wayne Mook says:

    So what number in B&M is Rune again? Runs away laughing.

    By the way is there a list of short stories? I know Fantastic Fiction lists about 50, stops around the year 2000.

    Also More City Jitters is Bureau of Lost Souls but does Lost in Leicester Square appear in More City Jitters?

    I was looking at the Oranges & Lemons cover, the North American version looses the springtime in London, but mentions The Lonely Hour, it also has a little box for the PCU and the B&M logo is different, it feels a little crowded. I saw the audiobook cover that’s due out, it’s very brown. Some of the audio covers are a bit dull, not sure about Full Dark House, red with just the silhouette of a plane (I’m guessing it’s one of the ME109s if memory serves some of them had flat ends to their wings.)


  16. Frances says:

    Due to delivery problems – always bad here and non-existent during the pandemic – I have all the books on Kindle. 12th January is the new date. Not too bad and it has always been worth the wait.

  17. Wayne Mook says:

    Just picked up a copy of Case Book for £19.99 no P&P, now the wait begins. I’ve been meaning to get it for some time.


  18. John Griffin says:

    Believe it or not, got O&L as soon as published, but HAVE NOT OPENED IT!
    Am saving it for a very rainy day, with a few bottles of good beer and a sloe-eyed temptress curled under my arm. OK I lied about the last bit. Honest, Mrs G. Don’t hurt me.
    My Soho Devil copy has an error in it – were there two editions?

  19. Mike says:

    @ Nick Lewin

    The rare cover has John May with a pipe, not Arthur

  20. snowy says:

    Wayne an answer to your enq. is yes, it’s in the Dell edition of MCJ and 5 editions of BoLS.

    [Details courtesy of the Internet Speculative Fiction Database – layout is a bit basic but most info is there.]

  21. Derek J Lewis says:

    Where does “Bryant & May’s mystery tour” fit into the canon then?

  22. Jon Masters says:

    Wish England’s Finest was available in paperback (hardbacks and e-readers hurt my feet when I drop them if I fall asleep !)

  23. Kathy Keenan says:

    And this is why I always buy the British version and pay the ridiculous shipping fees, because I get them earlier and can buy the ones that you think we American’s don’t want to ready!

  24. Mimi says:

    It costs extra for delivery, but Oranges and Lemons is available in the US from Amazon-UK and probably other dealers. I just re-read the Water Room (formerly my favorite). Oranges and Lemons is my favorite now even if it doesn’t have a ceanothus bush in it.

  25. Liz Thompson says:

    I managed to get the graphic novel, though not from the regular booksellers, and loved it. A London Guide? Yes, yes, yes!

  26. Peter T says:

    .. numbers are not restricted to real, positive integers!

  27. Derek J Lewis says:

    Thanks Mike, i didn’t notice May had the pipe on my copy of Full Dark House and i’ve had since it was first published, and read it on a Greek beach

  28. Eric Jamborsky says:

    I was able to get the two story collections in hardcover through Amazon, bless their international sellers. Enjoyed both very much.

  29. Jon says:

    I noticed someone mentioned a book with the title “Soho Devil” that an alternative name for an early novel, not heard of it before. I am more confused after reading this than I was before I read it!…Think the only books I have not read are Oranges & Lemons and England’s Finest…think I have read the others in order, last one I read was Lonely Hour.

  30. Andrew John Hartley says:

    Never knew I’d got the rare cover of Full Dark House bought it on day of publication from Borders in Leeds City Centre many moons ago.

  31. Wayne Mook says:

    Thanks Snowy. I have the site bookmarked but didn’t think to look. It is missing London’s Glory, England’s Finest, as well as Film Freak and Forgotten authors, (only non fiction is Paperboy). A good list of shorts though.

    My Casebook came today, I picked it up new from a seller. I later found out it is by PS publishing in their art book section, which is mainly printing old comics from EC and such like, Captain Science looks intriguing.

    It is hardback but a slim volume, it is a lovely book, at the end it shows the cover of the books upto The Invisible Code and opposite an illustration inspired by the book, but the cover of Full Dark House shown is the 1st pipe problem.

    John is what is the error in your case book? Is it the PCU profiles, Janice’s bio is Colin’s? I think this was the only edition, sadly the 2nd volume – The Deptford Demon never appeared.


  32. snowy says:

    Jon, ‘The Soho Devil’ is one of the stories in ‘The Casebook of Bryant and May’.


    TITLE: The Casebook of BRYANT & MAY The Soho Devil
    PUBLICATION DATE: January 2013
    EDITION: Hardcover
    PAGES: 96
    PRINT RUN: 1700 Unsigned
    INTRODUCTION Christopher Fowler
    DRAWN BY Keith Page
    GRAPHICS BY Martin Butterworth
    ISBN: 978-1-848863-456-5

    The critically acclaimed cult detectives Bryant & May are the stars of ten deranged novels that explore London’s most arcane mysteries, from its hidden rivers to its secret societies. And now they’re coming to comics! Christopher Fowler, a lifelong fan of graphic novels, has teamed with legendary ‘Thunderbirds’ and ‘Commando’ artist Keith Page to create a sumptuous, stunningly coloured annual of fun containing a brand-new full-length adventure, a 1960s-set Untold Story, galleries, alternative full-page covers and trivia. Expect the first volume to become a collectors’ item.


    How to Invent a Mystery Series
    Introduction by Christopher Fowler

    The Soho Devil
    Written by Christopher Fowler
    Drawn by Keith Page
    Graphics by Martin Butterworth

    Arthur Bryant’s Secret Library
    Written by Christopher Fowler

    The Severed Claw
    Written by Christopher Fowler
    Drawn by Keith Page
    Graphics by Martin Butterworth

    The Peculiar Crimes Unit Sketch Book
    Drawn by Keith Page

    The Strange Cases of Bryant & May
    Written by Christopher Fowler

  33. Ian Luck says:

    I love ‘The Casebook’ – In ‘The Soho Devil’, the titular entity carries off a character who looks identical to the great Alexei Sayle, in his ‘Ullo, John, Got A New Motor?’ phase in the earlu 1980’s. Pork Pie hat, ill-fitting suit. It has got to be him.

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