Bryant & May: The Hidden References
Planning the Bryant & May novels with a long overview, I carefully bury oblique references across the series. Only a crazy person would sit down with them and start teasing out all the connected strands that I tucked into the stories. Luckily, Ian Alexander Martin is mad as a badger, and seems intent on finding the hidden references in the stories. I’m quite pleased to note that he has still missed some of the more obscure clues though! Here’s just a sample of the stuff he sent me…
â€¢ Full Dark House
â€¢ “â€¦but my harpsichord has suffered some minor bomb-damage.” This echoes a mention of a Yamaha Organ needing a tune-up in the modern story earlier.
â€¢ “What do you know of fear of open spaces?” This echoes April’s problem of 2003, plus the premonition that Maggie gets at the pub at the end of the book where she sees May’s future.
â€¢ “An un-exploded bomb. I’m seeing fire and screaming. An explosion, Arthur, a terrible explosion that I’m rather afraid causes the death of one of you.” This declaration of Maggie’s hides a secret echo that can only be explained at the end of the book.
â€¢ Water Room
â€¢ “On that occasion all railway traffic had been halted, and the shattered Fleet sewer had emptied its poisoned water into the train tunnels at King’s Cross.” In 63 years we’ll visit that waterway again, pursuing yet another mysterious son whose real identity isn’t known. Oddly, the son in WWII also escapes by subterranean waterway to avoid capture, making this a double-bonus reference.
â€¢ “It’s falling like stair rods out here.” Longbright uses the same expression as John May did in 1940, and also to get people to step out of a downpour, during the 2003 murder investigation.
â€¢ Seventy-Seven Clocks
â€¢ “Five days later, Longbright stood in a private, neglected section of Highgate Cemetery.” Ironically beside the family crypt where cocaine is found to be stored.
â€¢ Just after visiting Bryant’s flat “May walked down Charing Cross Road and cut through the back of the National Portrait Galleryâ€¦” where the painting was destroyed in December 1973.
â€¢ “Ever hear of the Club of Romeâ€¦ Three Hundred Clubâ€¦ Olympiansâ€¦ Iluminati and the Cathars.” All of which suggest the Guild association, where we later end up.
â€¢ Ten-Second Staircase (the Leicester Square Vampire sub-plot)
â€¢ “We had a report last month of a man sucking blood out of a WREN in Leicester Square.” (that’s further mentioned by Maggie in 10-Second Staircase)
â€¢ “â€¦the Man in Greyâ€¦ appears in the Theatre Royal, Drury Laneâ€¦ three-cornered hatâ€¦ riding cloakâ€¦” This ghost is mentioned again in the student’s murder case, as he resembles Dick Turpin.
â€¢ “Bryant listened as he cleaned out his pipe bowl with a pickle fork that he kept in his coat for just such a purpose.” Later he’ll use it solely for the starting of his Austin Mini.
â€¢ “He took an experimental swing with his left fist. ‘I put my geography teacher in the hospitalâ€¦’ ” This comment of Biddle’s sets-up Bimsley’s unnatural strength when he knocked out his gym teacher in school and was told to stop boxing. The modern PC uses this ability to defend Myra and her sister from an ex-boyfriend in a cafÃ©.
â€¢ White Corridor
â€¢ “She stuck a lethal-looking pin through her hat.” This hatpin is later used to stir Madeline to release Arthur in the tunnel in the middle of Dartmoor somewhere.
â€¢ Other Cases / Details
â€¢ “The runic curses that brought London to a stand-still.” Bryant & Mayâ€™s first investigation was in â€˜Runeâ€™.
â€¢ “The corpse covered in butterflies.” This was the start of their investigation in â€˜Soho Blackâ€™.
â€¢ “Years later, May found out that Bryant’s brother had died on a Thames bargeâ€¦” Recurs in later books.
â€¢ “There was another mitigating circumstance that protected Bryant from conscription [in addition to being the lone existing offspring and having ‘a bit of a dicky pump’], but it was not something he felt comfortable speaking of.” Expanded in the future.
â€¢ Case of Greek Ambassador’s wife being disturbed by Italian gentleman putting a curse on her, but no reason is given. This could be an echo of the false thread of Greek curses within Full Dark House.
â€¢ Alma explains that someone might have got into Arthur’s flat with a skeleton key, but John explains one wouldn’t be necessary as the lock’s not difficult to open. “I’ve done it before now.” â€¦oh yes? When and why?
â€¢ John May’s son is either ‘living in Canada’ and not speaking to him â€” as is stated in all the books, save for this one â€” or is recovering from years of addiction in a commune in Southern France . A later timeline reveals both to be correct.
â€¢ John May’s father apparently was a philanderer and John wishes to avoid the visitation of the sins of his father.
â€¢ Apparently there’s a full 142 major cases for the PCU from 1940â€“2003 (i.e.: ‘now’ in the time line)
â€¢ Pilot; murder; alibi involves being tied to a cow in Regent’s Park; also mentioned in Water Room somewhere. Madness.
â€¢ Continually referred to the Deptford Demon and its attack in a cinema.