The History Of Bryant & May


Arthur Bryant and John May are Golden Age Detectives in a modern world. They head the Peculiar Crimes Unit, London’s most venerable specialist police team, a division founded during the Second World War to investigate cases that could cause national scandal or public unrest. Originally based above a London tube station, the technophobic, irascible Bryant and smooth-talking modernist John May head a team of equally unusual misfits who are just as likely to commit crimes as solve them.

The books are written chronologically, but can just as easily be read out of order (in fact, some volumes benefit from doing so). The cases take on the different styles of the classic detective stories.




When Arthur Bryant is blown up in his office and all that’s left of him is his false teeth, his partner John May looks for clues to his death. The hunt takes him back through the years to the unit’s foundation, the worst day of the blitz, and a murder investigation in the Palace Theatre, where an outrageous production of Orpheus In The Underworld is being staged, and where the principle dancer has been found without her feet.

Everyone in the theatre is a suspect. Soon there are more bizarre deaths, and as our argumentative young detectives track their elusive quarry through the blackout, the fog and the bombs, they unwittingly follow the pattern of the play, chasing Orpheus to Hades…

‘A wonderful setting which allows the author to trawl through many different subjects, from the signs and symbols of Greek mythology to outright horror and Baroque excess. Wartime London is conjured up with unique skill…Fowlers powers of description are enviable.’ – Independent on Sunday



Water Room pb

Bryant & May’s investigation of a secret world beneath London begins when a woman is found in a dry basement with her throat full of river-water. In the quiet street where she lives, the residents are unsettled by the sound of rushing water. Further impossible deaths reveal a connection to the lost underground rivers of London, and a disgraced academic hunts an ancient secret that will soon be lost within the forgotten canals. Meanwhile it won’t stop raining, there’s a flood coming, and nobody’s house is safe as Bryant and May head beneath the city to stop a murderer from striking again.

‘An imaginative funhouse of a world where sage minds go to expand their vistas and sharpen their wits’ – New York Times


Perfect match

Arthur Bryant, writing his memoirs, recalls a case from 1973. As strikes and blackouts ravage the country, a rare painting is vandalised in the National Gallery, and members of a high-born family are killed in a variety of lunatic ways – by tiger, bomb and barber.

As the hours of daylight diminish towards winter’s shortest day, Bryant & May discover that a Victorian legacy holds the key. It’s a mystery that leads behind the sealed doors of ancient London’s guilds and to a murderous legacy of British imperialism. Time is running out for the detectives, unless they can find the seventy seven clocks…

‘Life always seems livelier whenever Arthur Bryant and John May are on the case’ – New York Times


ten-second staircase

When a controversial artist is found dead in her own art installation, inside a riverside gallery with locked doors and windows, the only witness is a small boy who insists that the murderer was a masked man riding a stallion.

Then a television presenter is struck by lightning while indoors…clearly, they’re the kind of impossible crimes that only Bryant & May can solve. But Bryant has lost his nerve following a disastrous public appearance, and May is fighting to keep the unit from closure.

With a sinister modern-day highwayman bringing terror to the London streets, the detectives track their suspects to an exclusive school and a deprived housing estate. But the highwayman starts to become a national hero, and the public turns against them…

Exploring the dark side of celebrity, the conflicts of youth and class, and the peculiar myths of old London, Bryant & May are back on the case with a vengeance…

‘I’m dead-serious when I say I believe Fowler’s work will one day stand alongside Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie in terms of prestige. He’s simply that strong. Mystery fans have no reasonable excuse to ignore him – or his invaluable creations – any longer’ – Bookgasm


white corridor PB

The unthinkable has happened at London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit. A key member of staff has been found murdered, and everyone who works there is suddenly a suspect. But Arthur Bryant and John May aren’t on hand to solve the crime. They’re stranded on a desolate snowbound section of country road. As the blizzard worsens, they attempt to solve the crime long distance using only their mobile phones.

Unfortunately, their situation is about to worsen. Unknown to the stranded detectives, an obsessed killer has travelled from the Riviera to Dartmoor, and is stalking the stranded vehicles, searching for one particular victim, coming closer with each passing minute…

As if it didn’t have enough trouble, the Peculiar Crimes unit is about to receive a demanding royal visitor, and the Home Office is preparing to shut the PCU down when the visit inevitably goes wrong…

Two murderers, two incapacitated detectives, just six hours to solve two crimes and save the unit. Armed only with their wits, woolly coats and a stack of dubious veal and ham pies, Bryant & May are bracing themselves for a day trapped inside the white corridor…

‘Another triumph for the Peculiar Crimes Unit!’ – Independent On Sunday


Victoria Vanishes US

It begins with a life lost on a London street; a middle-aged woman collapses outside a public house called The Victoria Cross. Yet it becomes one of the most disturbing cases the Peculiar Crimes Unit has ever undertaken…

Arthur Bryant passes the woman just before she dies. But when he returns to the scene a few hours later, nothing is how he remembers it. For a start, the busy nineteenth century pub is now a supermarket. The elderly detective’s greatest fear is that he might be losing his mind. After all, he managed to mislay a friend’s funeral urn on the same night.

While Bryant faces some home truths about perception and memory, his partner John May investigates a similar death occurring in a busy London pub. A killer is taking lives in the city’s safest and most convivial places, but how is he doing it, and why?

The detective’s search involves arcane mysteries, secret societies, line-dancing, speed dating, hidden insanity, and the solution of London’s most extraordinary forgotten conundrum. But naming the murderer is only the beginning of their problems, because closing the case means performing the impossible…

Christopher Fowler’s legendary detectives are at the peak of their powers, as their unit enters its darkest hour.

‘The great tradition of English eccentricity has many flag-bearers in the mystery field, with Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May series prominent among the crop. Fowler writes devilishly clever and mordantly funny novels that are sometimes heartbreakingly moving.’ – Val McDermid, The Times

BOOK 7: Bryant & May On The Loose



Londoners are losing their heads.

In rush-hour King’s Cross, one of the busiest crossing points in Britain, finding a murderer would be a nightmare for any force. But when a decapitated body is found in a shop freezer, London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit is not summoned – because the unit has been disbanded, and elderly detectives Bryant & May have no access to evidence that can help them find a killer. The situation worsens with the appearance of a second headless body.

And something is disturbing the area’s property developers. Half-man, half-beast, the figure appears at night on building sites in the mystical image of a forgotten legend. The detectives uncover the Pagan secrets of the historic streets and start to discern a pattern. But the sinister solution will lead them to the heart of the city’s oldest mystery…who really owns the London landscape? As they get close to the truth, Bryant & May make a very bad enemy indeed.

Everyone’s favourite elderly detectives are back, out of the system and on the loose, searching for body parts, behaving disgracefully and exposing London’s most closely guarded secret – a secret kept by the ground upon which the city itself is built…

‘The eccentric views of London in Christopher Fowler’s playful Peculiar Crimes Unit novels will gladden the heart of anyone who appreciates an offbeat mystery…is this fun or what?’ – The New York Times Book Review

‘So much of the appeal of these books lies in the opportunity given to the reader to spend time with these beautifully realized characters, to step into their world and feel welcome. Imagine the X-Files with Holmes and Watson in the place of Mulder and Scully, and the books written by PG Wodehouse, and you have some idea of the idiosyncratic and distinctly British flavour of the Bryant & May novels, with some lovely tongue-in-cheek dialogue and sly asides.’ – Black Static magazine

‘The detectives tackle their latest interlocking puzzles with gleeful energy and savvy as well as a keen interest in even the strangest of detecting methods.’ – Seattle Times

Off the rails

BOOK 8:Bryant & May Off The Rails


London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit has been given a week to clear its backlog of investigations. But the only mystery on their books looks like a mundane accident – a young mother falls down the escalator in a rush-hour tube station, in full view of commuters and cameras. Still, detectives Arthur Bryant and John May are nagged by the doubt that something wicked has occurred.

When a clue links a second corpse to the London Underground, Bryant needs no excuse to start investigating the strange history of forgotten stations, ghosts and suicides, as a seemingly trivial clue sends him searching for a clever killer who always covers his tracks. With the suspect list spreading to include a household of students, it seems everyone has secrets to hide. And who is the sinister night crawler spotted in the tunnels after the last train has pulled out?

It’s a mystery Bryant & May were born to solve. With the Peculiar Crimes Unit roaring back into business in new premises, everyone’s favourite elderly detectives are heading down onto the darkened platforms of the world’s oldest underground railway to hunt murderers. To solve the puzzle they must explore a unseen world, uncover hidden histories and stop a ruthless killer from striking again. But the biggest shock is discovering that nothing is ever as it appears.

The eighth Peculiar Crimes Unit novel has all the ingredients you’d wish for, and a few dark surprises up its sleeve…

‘Sophisticated, fast-paced and confounding until its final twist, Bryant & May Off The Rails is Christopher Fowler dead on track and at the height of his power to beguile, bewitch and entertain.’ The Book Critics


Memory Of Blood

Bryant & May No.9: The Memory Of Blood

On a rainswept London night, the wealthy unscrupulous Robert Kramer hosts a party in his penthouse just off Trafalgar Square. But something is wrong. The atmosphere is uncomfortable, the guests are on edge. And when Kramer’s new young wife goes to check on their baby boy, she finds the nursery door locked from the inside.

Breaking in, the Kramers are faced with an open window, an empty cot, and a grotesque antique puppet of Mr Punch lying on the floor. It seems that young Noah Kramer was thrown from the building, but the child was strangled, and the marks of the puppet’s hands are clearly on his throat…what’s more, there was a witness.

It’s a perfect case for the Peculiar Crimes Unit. As John May and his team interrogate the guests, Arthur Bryant heads into the secret world of automata and stagecraft, illusions and effects. His suspicions fall on the staff of Kramer’s company, who have been employed to stage a gruesome new thriller in the West End. As a second impossible death occurs, the detectives uncover forgotten museums and London eccentrics, and take a trip to a seaside Punch & Judy show.

Then Bryant’s biographer suddenly dies. Was it a tragic accident, or could the circumstances of her death be related to the case? There’s just one hour left to solve the crime, but Bryant has buried himself away with his esoteric books. The stage is set for a race against time with a surprising twist…

‘Christopher Fowler manages to write detective novels that are warm homages and mild pastiches of the Golden Age while at the same time excellent stories in their own right. In ‘The Memory of Blood’ there is even that rare element, the locked room mystery.’ – Sunday Times


invisible code

Bryant & May No. 10: Bryant & May and the Invisible Code


‘You need to start acting your age, Mr Bryant.’

‘If I did that, I’d be dead.’

As detective Arthur Bryant’s memoirs are published, he starts to feel his age. But a case is coming that will change his life. A young woman called Amy sits in a quiet London church, and is found dead in her pew after the service. But no-one has been near her. She has no marks on her body and the cause of death is unknown. The only odd thing is that she had a red cord tied around her left wrist.

At a government dinner party to welcome heads of state, the wife of civil servant Oskar Kasavian gets drunk and insults the gathering. She believes she has been made a social outcast by her husband’s friends because she is a foreigner from a lower class. Angered by the invisible code that governs British class behaviour, she continues to behave so badly that she is eventually sectioned.

But Bryant thinks she is being victimised. Soon he is investigating Hellfire clubs, class warfare, secret codes and the history of Bedlam. Then the wife is found dead with a red cord around her wrist. In the biggest case of their careers, Bryant & May take on the establishment itself, knowing that they cannot possibly win.

‘As before in these quirky narratives, the reader is taken on a fascinating (and often bizarre) journey which is notably difficult to read in short measures – the insidious Mr Fowler demands our total attention. Just remember that if you unwisely start reading the book two stops before your destination…’ – Crimetime Magazine

‘The Bryant and May series — two old-fashioned detectives trying to cope with the modern world — is witty, charming, intelligent, wonderfully atmospheric and enthusiastically plotted. But never mind the plot; it’s the telling of it that counts.’ – The Times

The Casebook of Bryant & May (Graphic Novel)

In which Bryant & May chase after the murderous Soho Devil, and search for the owner of a severed hand. Two stories, plus crime profiles, Mr Bryant’s bookshelves, alternative covers and lots more!


Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart (Novel)

Bryant & Man and the Burning Man (Novel)