What Next For Bryant & May?

Christopher Fowler
In 'Bryant & May and the Invisible Code', due out on August 2nd, two small children play a game called 'Witch-Hunter', and place a curse on a young woman taking lunch in a church courtyard. Then they wait for her to die. An hour later the woman is indeed found dead inside St Bride's Church, a building that no-one else has entered. Unfortunately Bryant & May are refused the case. Instead, there are hired by their greatest enemy to find out why his wife has suddenly started behaving strangely... So begin the tenth Bryant & May adventure. Following this in October, the graphic novel 'The Casebook of Bryant & May' arrives. With 'Film Freak' and a stand-alone thriller in the pipeline, plus 'Invisible Ink', my non-fiction book, also due out, I shouldn't be thinking about what Bryant & May might get up to next, so in order to assist me I thought I'd throw the question open to you. What would you like to see Bryant & May get up to next? One idea was to have them travel to America, although quite a few people have been vocal about not removing them from their natural habitat. Then there's the idea that they should feature in the cases that have been mentioned throughout the series - except that short story collections are never very popular with the public. I have a few sinister ideas up my sleeve, one involving a new character who gets introduced in 'The Invisible Code' - but let's see what you'd be interested in seeing first.


Ford (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 11:44

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bryant apprently likes Pink Floyd. How about some back story; set in London during te original "Sumhmer of Love"? UFO Club; The 14 Hour Technicolour Dream, at Alexandra Palace. Lot's of opportunty for drugs; weird people; weird stuff generally ....

Jon Masters (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 11:56

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How about something involving the Houses of Parliament and the history of Government ? There must be tons of little known history about the locations and the way Government works, and I can see Mr Bryant having great fun winding up the great and the good at Westminster.

Dan Terrell (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 12:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Transplanting a series character overseas never seems - at least to me - to come off well. Many writers have tried it, including George Simenon, and the stories usually just don't ring as true as a character staying in the "home environment". A character is so much a product of his/her environment that things read off-character. And then there's the difficulty of truly recreating the foreign location. (I know you've lived in the U.S.) Still so many British writers doing the U.S. and Americans doing the British Isles, get it clunky or plain wrong with is off putting.
That said, a novel that starts in a foreign country, but moves back after a few chapters to the home country might work. May and Bryant in Paris for a few chapters, and then back to London might work. I am certain May would love it and Bryant would be in agony and the Parisians sharing a restaurant with Bryant, oh dear! I, for one, would suggest this title - brace yourself - Bryant and May and the Light at the End of the Chunnel. (You could add a Christe murder on the train!)
Great cover art and good to hear you are thinking positively about #11, but YES a short story collection with a 14,000 to 18,000 word novella.

stephen groves (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 12:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi Chris,
How about Bryant and May go to Oxford or Cambridge and if you involve the boat race you could add a few cox jokes.

All Best

Amy (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 12:48

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How about Bryant fearing that he's losing his faculties and encyclopedic knowledge of London. I've only read Water Room (which I really loved), unfortunately, so I don't know if you've dealt with age issues - not ageism, per se, but the maladies of aging. This would make May have to take on some of Bryant's characteristics and Bryant be more like May. I don't know. That's probably very weird or stupid. Anywho, then they come to find out that this affliction is happening to many people who aren't aging, but after some kind of seemingly supernatural encounter. I have a lot of reading to do. I've decided to get over myself and read the rest of your books. Good luck with everything. :)

Cid (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 14:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

There's nothing I like more than the characters' interaction with London, historical and modern, so I'd be miffed if they were to be transported to America, even if only for one book.

There are a lot of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squares_in_London&quot; rel="nofollow">squares</a> in the city, there has to be a story there somewhere.

Alan Morgan (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 14:09

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

All the characters (all of 'em) go abroad on a summer holiday. Hi-jinks ensue!

Or... whilst short stories might not be a seller, would a collection of (say) four in one volume be the same? All Arthur and John, all cases. It'd be a B&amp;M book still, rather than stand-alones. Like Peter O'Donnell's 'Pieces of Modesty' was for Miss. Blaise. Still in the series and all that.

Tracy (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 14:35

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I still want to know more about their adventures when they were younger - perhaps something based between the first book and 77 clocks?

snowy (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 15:20

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Our heros are despatched to Brighton.

Having decamped from the rather revolting hotel laid on by the local force (which they suspect is acctually a "knocking shop"), they find digs with an eccentric retired thespian, who only agrees to take them in if they can answer his questions about musicals. Someone has a suprisingly encyclopedic knowledge.

They are there to investigate the "outrageous" crime, (something involving a trunk perhaps or a Chief Constable bludgened to death in a locked room?)

During the course of the investigation:

Someones rather racy past is revealed.

An old friend thought gone is discovered living in a retirement home.

Someone falls foul of a stick of rock.

Someones whelks get spilt, to their great constination. Said whelks reappear at odd intervals, having sequestered themselves in various coat,jacket and waistcoat pockets. They are consumed as discovered with great relish, to the very obvious disgust of someone else.

(ooh this is getting a bit long.)

Jennifer (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 18:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bryant and May in the East Hampton you know so well?

Helen Martin (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 18:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

All of the above? That would keep you busy for quite some time. I really would like to see some of the early cases and you mentioned some time ago that you were thinking about it. It would have to be cases you haven't written about in short stories and perhaps the parliamentary idea could figure in one. (That was a splendid suggestion)

Mike Cane (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 21:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Forgive me, Chris, for I have sinned. I am 2, possibly 3, books behind (with *everyone*, not just you!).

When I last left off, you kept having them modern-day, as old men. And although I love ancient Bryant, the promise of the first book -- the ability to move along their timeline -- is what drew me in.

Go back in their timeline! Any chance of them intersecting with the TV/SF world? Doctor Who production staff? Gerry Anderson? May has a daughter. What would have been her fave TV show as a child?

Alistair (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 21:11

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

When is the audio version out?

I like Clocks the best, particularly because it is set in 1973. How about another historical case?
1960's London. Plenty to work with there.

Keep up the good work.

stephen groves (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 22:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How about Bryant and May investigate a murder in a prison.Now there is a locked room mystery.

all best

Gretta (not verified) Sat, 26/05/2012 - 23:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The Only Way Is Bryant and May? Where the lads investigate some dozy peroxided orange bint who appears to have choked to death on one too many glottal stops? Innit.

Failing that, I'd like to see some more of the lads when they were lads. Something from the 1950-60s? I'd also like some of those quirky Londonisms involved somehow, like that dog cemetery, the cabbie cafes, the last gas lamp, or that shrine to/for prostitutes.

BTW, colour notwithstanding(I can't stand p*rple, sorry), yet another great cover from Mr Frankland. You are very lucky to have him as your cover artist, admin. He always does such a great job with your books.

Dan Terrell (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 00:10

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Perhaps of interest: I see there's a new movie poster book due out from the Chicago Review Press. It's called The Slasher Movie Book by J. A. Kerswell and Amazon US &amp; UK have it available. Sounds like it might be down some of this blog's readers alley.

J. Folgard (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 06:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

On a side note, this cover is beautiful!

Diogenes (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 06:49

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Cricket and Lords in particular must have an interesting history.

Christopher Fowler Sun, 27/05/2012 - 07:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hmm - short stories featuring earlier cases from their shared past seems a popular choice, as does the Summer of Love...going onto the terrace with a mug of tea to think...

Alan Morgan (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 08:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just as the stories are often about the less-well known, a late 60s story would be extremely interesting as you'd doubtless portray the real-late 60s. Not the Austin Powers 60s where everyone, everyone, went to Carnaby Street and had fab hair.

The thing with Arthur and John is very much that they are old. I'm probably way out but I half sense a reluctance to write for them too much in the past? Shorter stories collected might free you up more for that sort of thing? It might even give a theme for four or so shorter pieces collected together, without cracking the common frame, as it were, more widely for the series? One that covers something mentioned, one that develops one of them in a direction you want, one that foreshadows a story to come, one that is just plain fun. Perhaps it will enable you to see to ideas you rejected as not being suitable to a full novel? You clearly enjoy writing shorter pieces - theme 'em, collect 'em.

If I had to suggest what would interest me, it would be Maggie and the other late nighters often alluded to (and not just in specific B&amp;M of course).

Or hell, I dunno, the Limehouse Ratboy? ;0)

Phil (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 09:33

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How about a mystery set in Paris?? I can picture them running around Notre Dame at midnight, chasing a felon up the Eiffel Tower and visiting The Moulin Rouge!!

Jenny Campbell (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 13:56

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

60s London seems rich and rife to me..

Shuku (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 18:00

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I -just- finished The Memory of Blood, having finally hunted it down to earth in a local bookstore and -loved- it. So worth the wait. That said, Parliment's a beautiful suggestion. What about Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and tying something about him up with May's obsession with techno gadgetry? (Or even the Stone of Scone or something, which is admittedly rather silly.)

andrea yang (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 18:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Just read a non-fiction work about Oliver Cromwell's head by John Fitzgibbons maybe you could create a peculiar crime out of all the mythology surrounding Oliver's head.

Dave (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 19:16

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bring them back to Devon. Last time they were here they never had time to get started on the Bideford witches, the Clovelly cannibals, John Lee the man they couldn't hang, or the beast of Exmoor.

Merlie (not verified) Sun, 27/05/2012 - 21:29

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I have read all the Bryant and May books - looking forward to August and The Invisible Code.(I am in Canada so may have to wait longer?)I lived in England for over thirty years and have learned more about London from your books than I could ever have imagined ! As for Bryant and May traveling,maybe they should come to Canada - Vancouver or Victoria, much like England. A trip to Paris could find May searching for Brigitte (maybe the love of his life is in trouble - or worse!) Cricket and Lords has been suggested-how about Polo and royal connections? Love your books and will read about these characters at home or abroad.

Gretta (not verified) Mon, 28/05/2012 - 08:31

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

PS: If you are going to set a B&amp;M in the 60s, could you somehow weedle Ronan Point into the story? I don't know why, but that incident has always fascinated me.

I like the Paris idea. Arthur and Parisiennes were made for eachother, I think. In much the same way as fire and petrol.

Kevin (not verified) Mon, 28/05/2012 - 20:45

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Another vote for the Swinging Sixties here - but of course, being Bryant &amp; May, it will also include the dark, foetid underbelly of that time. The drug casualties, the resurgence of interest in the occult, the sudden uncertainty and flux in social class distinctions, the Krays and their ilk, the polluted River Thames. The fact that the biggest selling records of the sixties weren't just by The Beatles, but also things like The Sound of Music soundtrack, and 'Tears' by Ken Dodd, which most people conveniently forget when they get all nostalgic.

And yet, and yet ... there was something in the air at that time, which seems to have been sorely lacking ever since, despite most politicians attempts to convince us that they have recaptured it.

As for taking B&amp;M away from London - that seems a bit strange. The thought of them leaving Britain though just seems ridiculous. May might manage it, but Bryant wouldn't last ten minutes.

Joan (not verified) Mon, 28/05/2012 - 21:10

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Please do not take Bryant &amp; May out of London or at least
not out of the British Isles. I am an
American Anglophile and insist you keep them in Britain
with the rest of the PCU. We have become attached to ALL
of them, even Crippen the cat. A story involving Oxford
or Cambridge might be acceptable. Going back to their
earlier days might be a choice. I just reread "The Victoria
Vanishes" and loved it all over again. Brits and those who
have lived there (me) appreciate the humour. Thanks for
some great reads!

Dan Terrell (not verified) Tue, 29/05/2012 - 11:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Keep posting fans of B &amp; M. By my count, and excluding Admin's retorts, the number of posts for Snow White (and she who shall not be named) now only exceeds the number for this B &amp; M item by only ten, are there another 10/12 posts out there? Let's tromp Kr... she who shan't be spoken of by them who are usually initialized, "namely" B &amp; M. Go team!

Jessica (not verified) Tue, 29/05/2012 - 12:42

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am also an American and I am begging you not to let Bryant and May leave London! Part of the reason I love the series is that fact that London itself is such a strong character/setting. I agree with some of the previous posters that you could always play with the timeline (like in Clocks and Full Dark House).

Bruce Baber (not verified) Tue, 29/05/2012 - 17:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

An American researching his ancestry visits his ancestral home in the bucolic village of Nempnett Thrubwell (yes, there really is such a place) in Somerset. Troubles with his research lead him to enlist Bryant as a consultant. Bryant accepts because he enjoys dusty old volumes and the extra money doesn't hurt since a slight misunderstanding with Land forces him to take a few days off. Mayhem results when Bryant starts digging into the past, but foul deeds past and present are Arthur's cup of tea.

How do canal boats, steam trains and bi-planes figure in? I don't know either, but then again I'm not Christopher Fowler!

Lostintown (not verified) Tue, 29/05/2012 - 18:51

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Here's another vote for keeping them in London.
Also, how about a plot centered on classic Ealing films? In fact there is a bit of Guiness and Holloway about B&amp;M.
In an earlier decade that may have been perfect casting!

snowy (not verified) Tue, 29/05/2012 - 21:22

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

On hearing the rallying cry above at 4:25 I shall re-enter the lists

For I am rabble and easily roused.

But before heave myself up on my hind legs again and give an opinion on the future of an authors own creation (a task I am supremely unqualified to even attempt, but hey its the 21st Century and such things seem to be "the done thing") I have a question.

I am slightly perplexed by the waves of horror and revulsion by mainly overseas readers at the prospect of our eponymous heros leaving the city. Holmes regularly stalked the farther reaches of the country to great acclaim. As did a number of "Golden Age" charecters and their more modern successors.

However having giving it further thought I am still at a loss to recall a single American detective who regularly operated outside the area in which they were created. (I look forard to having my monumental and grotesque ignorance corrected on this front.)

Racking my brains, I can only think of two examples, the first is not a detective per se. But more a lone "gun for hire" in the classic Western sense and anyway the author is British. The other is a deteective in a film series but is only given a gritty urban background as a device to enhance his status as a stranger in town, but it is never really remarked upon again.

Is this an unshakable tenet of American detective fiction, that all the the action must play out on the same stage, or does it really only require the four sets: the office, the bar, an alleyway and the inevitable rooftop showdown.

Getting back to the point (all too late, Sorry.)

Could they stray out of London, possible but but my feeling is that the story would have to have an arc which started and ended there.

Could they go abroad, probably not I can recall a lot of very successful british series that tried that, and all failed miserably, because the one constant character, the setting that all the other actors reasonate against is missing leaving them naked, stripped of all reference points. Being miserable in East Cheam is only funny because because its East Cheam. Transfer this to Paris and the behavior seems perverse.

Though the spectacular bemoaning that would occur if B&amp;M were to suffer the indignity of "no frills" airflight, compared to the glamour of the 50's and 60's they expected. It would probably start with an argument that "Luton London Airport is not in bloody London". Before being herded of to some benighted regional airstrip like Newcastle (Shudders.)

If they are going to be plucked from London, albeit briefly perhaps a short spell on a Scotish island, perhaps one rumoured to have been infected and not visited for decades.

snowy (not verified) Tue, 29/05/2012 - 21:25

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I should have split that up into two posts, it would have bolstered the numbers (and might of even made sense, no perhaps even that is to much to hope.)

Mike Cane (not verified) Tue, 29/05/2012 - 21:37

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Bryant &amp; May Go To Woodstock -- except, being B&amp;M, they never actually get there.

Sam Tomaino (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 01:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This American also says, "Stay in London." One of the things I like best about the series is the locale. Of course, a side trip to Paris might be good!

Vivienne Nuttall (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 08:43

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

One of the best things about the series, for me, is the odd facts about London, interwoven into the text. Moving B&amp;M away from their spiritual home doesn't ring true. (Although Oxford / Cambridge has a certain appeal). What about Non Central areas, such as Fulham (Artesian well under old Fulham Baths, underground stream under Eelbrook Common, etc)? But I agree. With previous comments, not present day, go back to 60's or 70's. Maybe even 50's, when the 'bombsites' were rich pickings as playgrounds in SW London.

Alan Morgan (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 10:07

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The Teenage Leicester Square Vampire? The PCU is updated to include a host of smart, street-savvy, hip teenagers that are in their early twenties, with great hair, from the suburbs, which really is London. They have unhappy sexless love affairs, brood, know all the really in DJs. There are shoes. People are described by their clothes. There is weather. Prostitutes are beautiful (and there are none). There are parties, celebrity parties, where there is no charlie. Villains are old, and stupid, and have never heard of the internet. There are clues. Clues are solved by the internet, only not for quite some time. Seven stone girls can always beat up sixteen stone bruisers from Bermondsey. There is always the latest technology. It is instantly dated by the publishing date. In his palace of glass the mysterious Fristopher Cowler weeps as his world shatters about him due to being mean to the dead-faced actress Mary-Sue Sparkle. Did I mention the shoes?

I'll get my coat.

Helen Martin (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 19:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Nero Wolf sent Archie to California once and it rained. Wolf talked about moving to Cairo where he had a house and he went 'home' to do research (The Father Search?) but no, New York, the brownstone, the kitchen, the nasty police officer - the stories would be all wrong without them. The White Corridor was exactly as required: started and ended in London, kept the references as much as possible and was totally great.
Anywhere in the British Isles would work as long as there is a connection to London and that shouldn't be hard.
Alan, with that suggestion I hope you are cowering behind something sturdy.

Bob Hampton (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 19:54

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Another American voting for keeping B&amp;M in England, if not necessarily confined (?) to London for the entire story. Part of the charm of White Corridor was its pairing of plots in and out of London, but with B&amp;M's "umbilical" connection to London left unsevered. And another vote for a tale (or shorter tales) set between the 40's and 70's, Admin's choice of course. Yes, a large part of the B&amp;M magic is their current age, but surely these characters would have been just as fascinating - albeit in somewhat different ways - in middle age. Finally, I can't resist adding that as a Kinks fan since forever... is Muswell Hill a promising locale?

Gretta (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 21:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I was reading on t'Beeb website yesterday that London is now the sixth largest French city, due to the conglomeration of French ex-pats in the East End. So the boys could easily do the French thing without having to leave home!

Another benefit of having a story in the 1950-60s, is that you will be able to employ the word 'spiv'. And possibly even 'floozy'. Surely that alone would be worth it?

(Have we beaten The Thread Which Must Not Be Named, yet?)

Lostintown (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 23:20

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I think that we all need to remember what happened when "Are you being served?" went abroad.

It wasn't pretty.

Dan Terrell (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 23:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Yes, Gretta, we did! Hip-Hip...
Mr. Fowler: She who resembles the - must remember to be careful here - the placid, surface of a still lake at twilight time - was accorded - not counting your several rejoinders - a total of 38 posts. Where as your May and Bryant have 41. Weep not, Admin, you're ahead. Now, excuse me, I'm going to try out some "our team just scored a soccer-goal moves" - heaven help my back.

Dan Terrell (not verified) Wed, 30/05/2012 - 23:36

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Add Lostintown's.
Remember a while back we discussed a readers march on Admin's publisher if they foolishly cut B &amp; M off. After this, think a march is possible?

Helen Martin (not verified) Thu, 31/05/2012 - 18:18

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

With foreigners logging in from outside somehow. Why not?

John Griffin (not verified) Fri, 01/06/2012 - 15:05

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

The historical resonances set up in many of the stories seem for me to suggest legendary story arcs, where mysteries/events repeat themselves - therefore leaving for the USA largely stuffs that! I had wondered about back-engineering a legendary villain/ess (bit stock), the new spring-heeled Jack, conceptualising the fiefdom of the City of London as a 1000 year old evil empire practising selective assassination (too close to the truth?) or emulating Holmes-complete-with Bradshaw, crimes done on sites of pre-Beeching stations in the Home Counties. It is that intrinsic mythology that grabs most of the UK readers I would suspect, having less romantic views of the metropolis than non-UK readers.
Keep up the good work!

Ralph Williams (not verified) Mon, 04/06/2012 - 12:53

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

One of the main reasons I enjoy Bryant &amp; May is that they do avoid the clichés of the detectives-in-cities genre, especially those where the killer seems to be travelling around on a tourist bus (and how many serial killers have been arrested on Big Ben anyway)?

Going to America and doing a similar thing would be interesting, Paris even more so, but there must be somewhere without a detective-in-residence?

Tony B (not verified) Thu, 07/06/2012 - 17:28

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

As I might have mentioned before I'd love to see a step back in time to see what they got up to in the 60s - Bryant and May's Summer of Love? Arthur taking a trip, John doing a Terence Stamp, that sort of thing. In London of course (although I'd let you off for taking them as far as the Reading or Isle of Wight festivals, or Stonehenge/Avebury for trippier locations of a different sort, which would make an interesting and expansive area of study for Arthur). Could fill in a few tantalising gaps (if, having been there, they can remember, of course). Mind you, as long as you do more I'll be happy...

Hangar Queen (not verified) Fri, 08/06/2012 - 04:24

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

How about some sort of jaunt to Ireland? Myth,legend and links to London galore yet still 'off the reservation'. I see incidents involving Ryanair,no fly lists and ferries.