What’s Next For Bryant & May?

Books, Bryant and May

Could I actually get Bryant & May to be the longest running mystery novel series?

No, sadly, though quantity should never beat out quality. I’ve been trying to draw up a list of detectives with longevity, but it’s hard to figure out. I should comfortably pass R Austin Freeman at 21 Dr Thorndyke books and Holmes doesn’t count as there were only four novels. But Gladys Mitchell managed 66 Mrs Bradley books, and I’m sure there are countless others who went as high.

‘Oranges & Lemons’ was a lot of fun to write, but research-heavy and exhausting to produce. It was the longest Bryant & May book to date, and required me to lose a summer, during which time I locked myself away and saw no friends. I thought that locking down and concentrating on giving the book a fourth draft would be a good discipline. If only I’d realised what was coming up!

The pandemic should have helped produce another novel of wide scope and similar length, except that ill health shut me down. I was diagnosed on the first day of Lockdown and emerged pretty much on the last day, although the aftershocks are still ongoing.

I’d had the idea for the new novel, ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’, which although separate would work as a sort of companion piece to the previous book, but the thought of writing it was daunting. My mistake was trying to make a start while I was still on morphine. The result was unsalvageable, even though it was well up to the standards of a couple of popular crime writers.

I waited for my body to reorient itself and heal a little before I started afresh. Luckily I had carried out the physical research before everything went crazy, and was able to start drafting. Most of the books in the series follow a particular style of crime writing, the exception being the procedural, a form that only really interests me as non-fiction.

The new book is the closest I’ll get to writing an espionage thriller. It follows the pattern of the others but chases down one single thread rather than following many at once. It’s a technique I was working to perfect in ‘There’s Something I Haven’t Told You’ (put out as the e-book ‘Little Boy Found’) and the upcoming ‘Hot Water’, which I actually started at the end, working backwards. I have future plans for a more extreme version of this style which I’m desperate to try out.

Appropriately for the 20th book, ‘London Bridge’ marks an end and a beginning. Its cast is continuing to morph and the unit’s circumstances are changing.  It will be the last of the ‘gigantic conspiracy’-style themes that have dominated the last few volumes – there’s only so far you can take them without losing every last shred of credibility – and will hopefully lead to a new focus on character.

I’ll try to get dates for the paperbacks of ‘England’s Finest’ and ‘Oranges & Lemons’. Assuming the world hasn’t ended/ Trump hasn’t got back in / Nigel Farridge has finally been consigned to his own private hell, normal service should be operating here albeit a couple of months late. 


18 comments on “What’s Next For Bryant & May?”

  1. Liz Thompson says:

    London Bridge sounds very promising, and I promise it’ll be straight onto pre order once announced!

  2. Debra Matheney says:

    Can’t wait for the pleasure of reading the next one.

  3. Peter T says:

    Keep yourself healthy. We are all planning to be reading new Bryant and May (and your other work) for at least the next 100 years.

  4. Jon Masters says:

    Well , since posting on this site made my E.F. wish come true, can I ask for next week ‘ s lottery numbers as well ?
    Amazon has paperback E.F. as Oct 15, and O&L on April 8.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    Well, I have to read O&L at least once more before anything new, so I’m fine but will certainly be pleased with anything that comes out. London Bridge certainly sounds promising.

  6. Roger says:

    May you last long enough for B&M to overtake Maigret (75 novels and 28 short stories) and Perry Mason (82 novels and four short stories)!

    “The result was unsalvageable, even though it was well up to the standards of a couple of popular crime writers.”
    Whose ears are burning now?
    I must say, I am struck with astonishment and admiration at your physical and psychological resilience.

  7. John Howard says:

    Now that is exciting news and we will be eager and ready and waiting.

  8. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    It will be worth the wait however long it takes.

  9. Paul C says:

    Slightly depressing to see that a debut crime novel by the (very) minor TV celeb Richard Osman is reviewed everywhere while proper crime novelists like Mr F struggle for reviews in the national media.

    Another indicator that we live in a mindless celeb culture…………..

  10. Mike says:

    If his book is as smug and irritating as he is I’ll be saving my money.
    The so called amusing banter between him and Armstrong makes me feel like throwing my dinner through the tv screen.

  11. admin says:

    I don’t really watch TV very often, except to run movies, because I know it would drive me crazy. The success of others doesn’t bother me because I know how the system works and am happy to do what I do in my own way.

  12. Helen Martin says:

    We’ve had instruction before on the system used by reviewers. You review the first one, review the second one (“As good as the first”, “A dismal failure after the promise of the first”) and after that only if there is something very new, memorable, or appalling. “More of the same” is not what anyone wants to read.

  13. Wayne Mook says:

    Did you manage to find a place for Summer Dies?

    Richard Osman is also a producer and creator of shows since the mid to late 90s; and has even written a number of shows. At least it appears he wrote it himself.

    Poirot was 33, although 3 more have been written by someone else, so your closing in on him.

    Oddly enough a number of writers have had problems writing in lockdown, it seems to have broken the regular habits that you get into and/or has been in the mind so much it’s pushing out the plot/ideas.


  14. Ian Luck says:

    I gave up on TV ages ago. I watched enough when I was younger, and I have my favourite old shows on DVD. I just can’t get excited about the TV shows now. I watched about three episodes of ‘Game Of Thrones’, and was bored shitless by them – if I stayed awake, that is. Never bothered with ‘Breaking Bad’ as stories based around drugs don’t interest me at all. Better off not bothering. I enjoy the shocked look on people’s faces, when they ask me about a certain show, and I reply: “I’ve never heard of it, sorry.” I think the last shows I made a point of watching, were ‘Whitechapel’ and ‘Luther’.

  15. Jean De Muzio says:

    I love your Bryant and May novels. I’ve read them all and am very happy when another one has been written. I’ve saved all your books too- to reread of course. You are one of my favorite authors.
    I hope you continue to get well.

  16. Dave Johnson says:

    Located in fire-ravaged California, I don’t know much about George 111. Was he the one who was found under a parking lot? Recently, I read that he was crazy.
    Is there anything uncovered about George 111 that you could work into a novel?

    p.s. – I know you closed the blog on pub names, but I have to tell you: here, in San Francisco, just came across a pub
    with the new name of ‘Lost Marbles’.
    I can’t wait for it to reopen, so I can prove I’m a qualified participant.

  17. Sharon says:

    Ahh ! I’ve just discovered you and your delightful books ! I am snapping up all of them and cannot thank you enough !! I laugh out loud and keep a dictionary close at hand … so thankful for you – get well , stay well , your needed !

  18. Ian Luck says:

    Dave – That was Richard III (1452-1485), who was found under a Leicester car park. George III (1738-1820) was in charge of England during The American War Of Independence, and of The United Kingdom during the Napoleonic Wars, although, from about 1811, his recurrent mental illness (nobody is exactly sure exactly what was wrong with him) made it impossible for him to carry out duties of state, and he was replaced by his son, The Prince Of Wales, in the role of ‘Prince Regent’ who would, in time become the incredibly unpopular King George IV, and would be mercilessly parodied in the TV show ‘Blackadder The Third’. He was played by Hugh (House MD) Laurie.

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