Quotes From My Non-Bryant & May Books No. 7: ‘Disturbia’

Reading & Writing


When I wrote this I was fresh from delivering ‘Spanky’ and felt drained. I wanted to write a ‘sorbet’ book, something light and digestible, but ended up creating this complex race-against-time through the London night between the working class Vince and thuggish posh Sebastian. The book contains twelve puzzles to be solved in twelve hours, but there are puzzles within puzzles too. I quite like this one;

Chameleon, sculptor, toucan, dragon, furnace, chisel and microscope are all what?

One of the things that caught me entirely by surprise when I reread the book was that Bryant & May not only feature, but solve the mystery of ‘The Nun & Broken Compass’ (sort of), something repeatedly mentioned in the canonical series. The book’s great fun but I think I improved on it in the screenplay version, which no-one has ever seen. Looking back, the publisher’s idea to embrace the weirdly homoerotic cover of ‘Spanky’ again by having the hero half-dressed on the front was a mistake. This is from the final chapter.

‘London has changed. Now it is a city built on sand, shifting and eliding into a thousand different lifestyles – ghost images transmitted through the interference. Its residents are finally free to plot a course through the maze of glass and steel and flesh, to locate the co-ordinates of their dream lives and exist within them.

London is no longer a city of formalities. Its institutions are falling. its stock exchange no longer a closed shop, its companies no more tradition-bound, its employees loyal to none but themselves, its intentions no longer honourable. The agreements that existed within a handshake, like the silk top hats of the city, have vanished. The tailored suits were too restricting, too earthbound; flight requires freedom.’

6 comments on “Quotes From My Non-Bryant & May Books No. 7: ‘Disturbia’”

  1. Wayne says:

    I read this while on a Cruise, some of the old ladies took quite an interest in the book and more than one asked what the book was about, The cover is a draw for the Blue rinsers…

    I liked the book and it has a fast pace, I kinda thought it would make a really good film.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    Perhaps it would make a good low budget, explode into the market, cop an Oscar, and become a classic little piece. There’s an old barn over there, let’s form a film company!

  3. RobertR says:

    It’s one of my favourite of all your books – I re-read it every couple of years. The puzzles of London, plus the collection of night-time London characters and the pace make it a great thriller.

  4. Many-Eyed Hydra says:

    Loved the twist at the end of this one. Very ruthless. My favourite of your books.

  5. One of my favorites of yours, i’m still waiting for the movie 🙂 Tho’ I guess at this point it would have to be “Christopher Fowler’s Disturbia” 🙂

  6. Normandy Helmer says:

    FYI, three “new” paperback copies offered on Amazon US at $46.62, $85.44 and $114.12. Plus shipping.

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