Launched This Week: The Final Bryant & May Novel

Bryant and May

Closure is so satisfying

Well, the old boys began at death’s door and somehow remained there for twenty books, but regular readers know why this has happened. The side effects of my failed chemo, combined with a truly bizarre sequence of global events, have conspired to imprison me at home and push my stress levels through the roof. But when it comes to explaining the series’ end there’s a bit more to it than that.

Rewind to 2018, when I was putting the finishing touches to 2019’s book. I had started to feel that it would be best to go out on a high. I also wanted to complete the circle of events begun in Volume 1,  where we glimpse the founding of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. It had mysterious origins, but right from the start I knew what those were. I’d been told the truth about government units from my father, who inadvertently gave me the plot motor that drove Volume 20. Later readers perhaps don’t realise just how much the series owed to real events.

I’d been dropping hints about the unit’s origins and felt it was time to make good on them, but it would mean bringing the B&M story to an end. Each book is a standalone mystery, of course, but by reading between the lines you could always see the story arc. Closure was satisfying, but sad for me.

I had actually set the series up for a 21st volume (already commissioned). It was going to be located in the London suburbs, where Bryant would be forced to deal with messy human emotions and family betrayals – a situation in which he would only make matters worse. A fish out of water story, then. My surprise prognosis took care of that, and the skeleton outline of ‘The House That Jack Built’ remains in a file on my laptop.

I do not know what to expect from the days ahead. I have the wit and energy to continue, even though I have been hit with ‘chemo brain’, a woozy fog that fractures all logical thought. From the day all this began at the start of 2020 I had to adapt. I went from regular tough morning exercise to none at all; from healthy eating to the famous ‘White Diet’ (white bread, vanilla custard, bland food). The nurses said the only thing they could guarantee was that my hair would fall out. It didn’t. Instead it turned white overnight.

Pete, the husband who had stood by helplessly as I went through everything, said that if the situation was reversed he would not be able to do the same thing. But as many of you will know, when you’re inside it you just get on with what you have to do. Being a trickster I may try to write again, but right now I’m too fuzzy-headed. It doesn’t help that there are jackhammers next door, pounding from 8am-6pm six days a week, knocking down relatively new glass boxes in order to replace them with almost identical glasses boxes.

I feel that perhaps I have come full circle too, seeing the double bill around to the point where I came in. And yet I still have more ideas and more to say. And there will be a surprise – a little amuse bouche  I prepared a while back for just such a time like this. So it may be over but it’s not quite done with…


62 comments on “Launched This Week: The Final Bryant & May Novel”

  1. Wayne (from years ago) says:

    Thank you! You’re the reason I read fiction. It started for me with Spanky after a visit to HMV in London and seeing an Audio book of the title on cassette (I didn’t buy it, the cover caught my attention. I wonder why!?) I found a crusty paperback of Spanky a few months later and enjoyed every word. I now have quite a collection of your books and have only two gaps.

    Bryant & May for me have been my most anticipated treat each year and i’ve pre-ordered every copy in Hardback and they stand proudly in their own section of my book case. I have my copy of latest, I won’t say last because i’m optimistic that they may make another appearance, waiting to be read once i’ve finished my current book.

    Thank you to for being so up front about everything. You are an inspiration and truly a rare breed, by sharing your life through this blog you’ve enriched my life as have your books. I have always felt as if i’ve known you even though we’ve never met.

  2. Kim Rowe says:

    Thank you so much Chris for Bryant & May (and many others of yours that I have also read with such pleasure). I have every one of them and feel bereft that this was the final one. I admit to being just a little in love with Mr May. Sending you every good wish and again, many thanks for B&M – and the fascinating facts about London.

  3. Dave Three says:

    Stayed up past my bedtime to finish it as I always have done with this series. Thank you Mr Bryant, thank you Mr May, thank you Mr Fowler. Peace be with you.

  4. Michelle Dempsey says:

    I have just started to re read all of B&M in anticipation of the final one, I have it but I’m not ready to read it yet, I do feel sad that it’s the final one as these books have kept me going over the years and helped me reconnect with my sister. You are truly a scholar and a gent Mr F. Thank you for giving us this fabulous series.

  5. Keith Page says:

    Looking forward to reading the final Bryant and May which I’ve enjoyed since picking up a copy of Full Dark House,initally intrigued by the cover. No connection at all, but the Tony Hancock project has found a publisher
    and there may also be an audio/play.All the very best.

  6. Steve A says:

    You and I come from pretty much the same part of the world, you Greenwich, me Bexleyheath. I dined out with my first girlfriend, at the first MacDonald’s opened in the UK in Woolwich, I guess about 1973/4. You and I are about the same age. Chris you obviously love London the Bryant & May series make that clear and through this marvellous series of stories you have taken me back to a London and to a time that I hold very dear. I have just purchased your two autobiographical novels and I anticipate they may have resonance for me, memories of a time, a place, a person. For the past 20 years you have been a part of my life, I truly hope that will continue. Please take care and stay positive.
    All the very best,

  7. Natasha Ramnauth says:

    Thank you for writing this, bittersweet though it was. I discovered Bryant & May at a difficult period in my life and it was lovely to disappear into these novels. They are many, many hours of pure pleasure. Through Mr Bryant, your love of your city was obvious, and coming back to London and seeing it through his and your eyes as it were, was a revelation. So many things I hadn’t noticed before. So many things to see with new eyes. My cousin lived in a flat of off Regent’s Canal and I used to walk from Angel down the canal many times. The memories! Bryant & May will live on! Very best wishes to you.

  8. Anna Noall says:

    Thank you. Earnestly withing you strength to your body, soul, mind and writing arm Christopher. Many years ago I discovered a book of yours when I was in the midst of one of the worst times of my life. How grateful I was then, and even more now for the years of joyful reading that followed. I think I’ve read everything you’ve written. Paper Boy touched me so deeply that I remember how tears ran down my face, it was so moving. Years from now there will be new people discovering your books, just as I did. Maybe they will find new strength in them from you too. I wish you whatever you wish for at this difficult and challenging time. Thank goodness you and Peter found each other and built this wonderfully strong relationship. I will be thinking of you a lot, as your journey continues. I am so sorry that after all the awfulness of chemo, it didn’t have the hoped-for outcome. You have so enhanced my life and I am so grateful to you.

  9. Susan+Drees says:

    Simply thank you for these regular visits to various parts of London, some of which I may have never seen but would love, and with such great company. They build on memories from my past visits to your city which began in 1972. I wish you well and whatever wishes you have for yourself. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  10. Susan+ says:

    Simply thank you for these regular visits to various parts of London, some of which I may have never seen but would love, and with such great company. They build on memories from my past visits to your city which began in 1972. I wish you well and whatever wishes you have for yourself. Thank you for sharing yourself with us.

  11. Lisa Foley says:

    Thank you from my heart, Mr. Fowler, for giving us Bryant and May. I recommend them to everyone, but I refuse to let my beloved copies out of my hands.

    I wish you Peace.

  12. Rhonda Swanson says:

    Waiting for my copy to arrive. Will dole it out one chapter at a time. I am sad that it is coming to an end. My emotional brick to the side of the head is hearing about your health. If I could work a miracle, I would. Maggie A and I would be doing some hard work for you.

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