‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ Is Officially Volume 21
If you’ve been following this blog you’ll know that ‘Bryant & May’s Peculiar London’ is not a traditional murder mystery like the other volumes in the series but an investigation of an altogether different kind. The suspect is London itself, with the detectives, along with Janice, Meera, Colin, Dan, Sid, Maggie and various other characters expounding on (and arguing over) their specialist subjects.
But mainly, it’s a chance for Arthur to share with us what he knows about city life past and present. I’ve added in as many of the locations from the series as I can without making the book too unwieldy, and of course there’s an introduction by the Peculiar Crimes Unit’s acting chief, Raymond Land, who has this to say;
Mr Bryant says who better to know about the city’s dark side than a copper, but my rule of thumb is, if you know something disgusting about London keep it to yourself and certainly don’t mention it on speed dates.
I was off sick when we did history so I don’t know a lot about it, but I do know that Mr Bryant’s version is gibberish. He rewrites the past to incorporate his dreams or things he wishes had happened when they patently did not. And he dwells on what’s not there more than what’s left. I tell him, you can’t live in the past, not when the rest of us have to live in the present.
It would help if he put his thoughts in some kind of order instead of behaving like the bloke who sits in the corner of the Dog & Duck telling everyone why his wife paid to have him killed.
The trickiest part of the project was marshalling all of the material into a coherent narrative so that it didn’t feel scattergun. I did this by trusting the characters to leap from one subject to the next as we would in everyday conversation. I considered taking the approach further and weaving the whole thing around one drunken night at the pub, but it would have lost the element of surprise and readers would really not have been able to tell what was real or false.
Bryant’s narration is unreliable, of course, but truthful and passionate, and the facts are as verified as any book featuring London can ever be. The end result has surprised even me, and I hope you enjoy it as much as the pleasure it gave me writing it.