Bryant & May 20th Anniversary Novel – Cover Revealed

Bryant and May

What can I tell you about the upcoming Bryant & May novel that doesn’t give the whole game away? Almost nothing, it turns out, except that it’s the longest, and the last.

It’s long because I wanted to tell a bigger story, and the last because I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish another one.

The book explains why London could not have existed without London Bridge, and the plot comes full circle – only not in the way you expect. And out of respect to the intelligence of my regular readers I’m staying away from questions. You know me well enough by now.

But there will be knavery. I’ve even managed to play a trick on our voice actor in time for the audio version. Artist Max Schindler has hit a career best on the cover, which is now my favourite. There are a couple of anomalies on it that you’ll note, but the only actual mistake (to be rectified) is that May is wearing the glasses, not Bryant, just as he accidentally sported Bryant’s pipe on the cover of the very first volume two decades ago.

The book arrives early summer. Here’s some of the jacket copy.

May: ‘I don’t know why this is happening to us.’

Bryant: ‘I’m afraid it’s the fault of my predecessor.’

May: ‘What are you talking about? You don’t have a predecessor.’

Bryant: ‘Oh, I’m afraid I do.’

It’s the kind of story that barely makes the news in London. When 91 year-old Alice Hoffman dies of neglect in her top floor flat on a busy London road, the story is upheld as an example of what has gone wrong with modern society.

But detectives Arthur Bryant and John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit have their doubts. Mrs Hoffman was once a government security expert, even though no-one can quite remember her. When a link emerges between the old lady and a diplomat trying to flee the country, it seems that an impossible murder has been committed.

Mrs Hoffman wasn’t alone. Bryant is convinced that other forgotten women with hidden talents are also in danger. And they all own models of London Bridge…

With the help of some of their more certifiable informants, the detectives follow the strangest of clues in an investigation that leads them through forgotten alleyways in search of a desperate killer.

But just when the case appears to be solved and exasperated unit chief Raymond Land can retire, the detectives discover that Mrs Hoffman was smarter than anyone imagined. There’s a bigger game afoot that has far more terrible consequences…

The book will celebrate Bryant & May’s twentieth anniversary as their most lunatic case brings death and rebirth to London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit.


46 comments on “Bryant & May 20th Anniversary Novel – Cover Revealed”

  1. Rh says:

    There’s probably a word for that ‘looking forward to but also not looking forward to’ feeling about this… maybe will just need to start again at the beginning!

  2. Jo W says:

    Another one to look forward too! Can’t wait.
    Talking of anomalies on the cover, would Arthur really wear a pink scarf? Did Alma knit it for him?

  3. Mark Afford says:

    Don’t be hasty.

    But if it is the last, may I thank you for nearly twenty years of wonderfully enjoyable books, the last dozen and more of which I have bought on the day of publication.

  4. Bernard says:

    Let us very much hope that you only fear it will be the last and that, in fact, there will be many more to come.

  5. Barbara Boucke says:

    Thank you for the cover image and the hints and the “sneak peek” at the intro. Your excitement about the publication of this book and the story itself shines through your post. Well done! I look forward to the release of “London Bridge is Falling Down”.

  6. Brooke says:

    Mr. Schindler does something interesting with perspective, shifting the angles. And using bits of the design to echo other parts, like the wave of Arthur’s pink scarf, which he also wears on cover of Lonely Hour–except it has stripes then.
    Do you really, really need a shoutline?

  7. Cornelia Appleyard says:

    It seems that several incarnations of London Bridge are involved.
    Looking forward to it.

  8. Bee says:

    Really looking forward to this ! Fervently hoping you are well and that this may not be the last of my absolute favourite series.

  9. Martin Tolley says:

    Thank you.

  10. Derek jLewis says:

    Good looking cover. Like the juxtaposition of old and new London and is that Bit of a Betjeman Homage in the Arthur pose?

  11. Davem says:

    Great cover … old and new

  12. Brian Evans says:

    The cover looks fantastic. And it is safe to say that this book can be judged by its cover as the synopsis sounds fantastic too.

  13. Peter says:

    I am really looking forward to this! I hope this will not be the last Bryant & May! Love the cover!

  14. Helen Martin says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those heads were identifiable, but probably not. Absolutely superb cover. If it should turn out to be the last (really hoping not) then it would be appropriate for there to be an error on the cover in the way of full circling.

  15. Paul Waller says:

    However much I’m looking forward to this I sincerely hope it’s not the last and we’ll reading your books for many years to come.

  16. Jan says:

    Thats a great cover!

    Mind it took me a bit 2 see Mr. May.

    Hope it’s not the last one Chris.

  17. Chris Lancaster says:

    Let’s pray that it isn’t the last. But if it is, then it looks a great way to finish.

    This is hopefully very premature, but thank you for all the entertainment over the years. I started out reading your books in the early 1990s, and particularly loved the short story collections plus Spanky and Psychoville — so much so that you are one of only a small handful of authors whose books I buy on release day, come what may, and have done for around 25 years.

    Your blog is also essential reading, and through it I’ve learned of many authors and films I wouldn’t otherwise have been aware of. I’ve long-admired how you have been so philosophical about how your work has seemingly never quite made it into the mainstream, especially when it comes to which other crime novels have been adapted for TV, while Bryant & May never quite made it onto screen. Somewhere in a parallel universe, I’m sure you are as popular as e.g. Stephen King!

    Thank you again, and, like all your fans, I’ll be thinking of you and hoping that somehow you’ll be around for years yet — not necessarily writing, but being happy and living your life.

  18. Mary Ann Barbara Atwood says:

    Love the heads on spikes…
    Thank you for several years of joyous reading.
    May your next journey be as peaceful as possible…
    perhaps you’ll run into Arthur and John…

  19. Des Burkinshaw says:

    George Harrison never really got that, despite the personal cost, he brought little but joy into the world. I hope, with however many years you have ahead of you, the comments on your blog leave you in no uncertainty about your own contribution to your readers’ happiness.
    Good luck with the treatment, Chris.

  20. Roger says:

    I hope you prove you’re wrong when you say ” I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish another one.”
    Greedy for more though I am, I’ll be content and very grateful for what we’ve got.

  21. Sarah Griffin says:

    Thank you so much for creating another world of alternative reality built entirely out of words.
    I look forward to happily jumping into this well crafted rabbit hole, the hum of the outside world will retract while I turn the pages. While I read I will be living in a different climate (possibly continuous rain!) investing my concern for characters who I know I will never meet and will be hooked on an amazing journey. It’s all a bit magical.
    When the spells over, my perspective will be ever so slightly retuned to the different layers of existence around me.
    In other words good fiction and story telling makes life richer.
    Thank you again for making these worlds.

  22. Andre says:

    An especially awesome cover for what will be an especially awesome story, as usual. Thanks and best wishes to you.

  23. John Howard says:

    The wonderful thing about being a fan of an authors writing is that the books are there on our shelves to read all over again, and again… That is why we are the lucky ones.
    Thank you so much for the millions of words and all the worlds you have taken us to. It’s always fun to open the front cover and dive in.

  24. Peter T says:

    KBO and remember that fear can galvanise us against overwhelming odds. Thank you for the preview, it looks like the best ever.

    And thanks, Derek. I’d never noticed the Betjeman in Arthur before.

  25. Adam says:

    Really looking forward to this one. Thank you for a fantastic series, easily my favourite from any author bar none. I rarely buy physical books any more, let alone hardbacks, but this will be joining its nineteen companions on my bookcase.

  26. Nelle Stokes says:

    I can’t wait to read this. Like Adam, you are one of the only authors whose books I still buy in hardcover. Supremely grateful for your work, and this blog. Your entries are fascinating, and they inspire the most wonderful wordplay in many of the regular repliers. Reading this has been a bright spot during the past thirteen months’ homebound version of the Zombie Apocalypse. I hope this is not your last Bryant and May book, and at the same time, I’m deeply grateful that we will have twenty.

  27. Paul C says:

    Great, roll on publication day……..can’t wait

    .As Peter T (and Churchill I think) said – KBO

    For more peculiar crimes, now on BBC iplayer (hidden away a bit) are the five old series of ‘Jonathan Creek’ about a creator of magic tricks for conjurors who teams up with a batty lady crime writer to solve bizarre crimes including some ingenious solutions – try series 1 episode 5 ‘House of Monkeys’ for a devilishly clever deduction. Alan Davies is a bit of an acquired taste though……

  28. John Griffin says:

    KBO my favourite author alongside Sir Terry P.

  29. Richard says:

    Thank you, Chris. Long may you run.

  30. Frances says:

    I was trying to remember how I first found your books and simply can’t. I do know that I was keen to get another as soon as I finished the first. I didn’t read them in order at first because I didn’t realise there were several. I have them all now, except for this newest one which I am looking forward to reading. I think that, like paintings, authors leave an imprint of themselves on their work. I think I, we, feel we know you. That is why we come here. I wish you all the best. Remember Camus: ““In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

  31. Jonah says:

    Some on-line sellers now also display a facsimile of the jacket cover, corrected with no glasses on May. The only other difference I can spot is no black “smoke” obscuring the bottom of the illustration, making it clear that Bryant’s right hand is wrapped around an umbrella handle. Maybe more differences can be spotted like in those picture puzzles found in newspapers and magazines.

    Interesting to check out alternative covers on various editions on-line. Bryant & May look inordinately young in some of the early Bantam cover illustrations, especially compared to Keith Page’s graphic novel cover.

  32. peter says:

    like everyone cant wait until july here’s a true story you and mr byrant might appreciate i started reading the byrant and may series around june of last year i have of course devoured them all at christmas i rang my younger brother we usually talk about our football team but then move on to more cheery subjects such as music and what books we are reading he told me he was re reading his byrant and may collections and was up to the victoria vanishes which was of course just what i was reading i mentioned this to my partner and she replied well you’re both barmy so what do you expect best wishes and thanks again for reading that gets better every subsequent episode

  33. SteveB says:

    It sounds absolutely awesome. Love the mix of old and new in the cover.
    I have all the B&Ms in hardback, and I’m still hoping to get them signed one day.
    All the very best.

  34. Keith Ravenscroft says:

    I suppose the end was inevitable. As is said “The greatest legacy anyone can leave behind is to positively impact the lives of others”.
    I had hoped for an endless stream of Bryant and May books…though I still have many left to read. It’s a feat in itself to be able to say you outlived these two wonderful detectives.
    I hope you will be with us for some time yet Chris, and thanks again for everything you’ve already given.

  35. Mickey says:

    I was so hoping for a compendium volume of “Arthur Bryant’s Peculiar London’s Walking Tour Guide” to use on a future trip to London. Love these books!

  36. Lorraine says:

    Ditto everything expressed by Chris L above. You are still one of my favourite authors and have been since well before Bryant and May surfaced. No other books consistently make me laugh out loud or feed my desire for the bizarre and eccentric. I’ve happily revisited many of them during lock down and they’ve picked me up no end. I wish you all the very best Chris and sincerely hope that you will be here for a long time yet.

  37. Martin Tolley says:

    Keith “The greatest legacy anyone can leave behind is to positively impact the lives of others”. True. But beware. I’ve never been in a lift since I read Mr F’s little story “The Eleventh Day”

  38. Sheila McInerney says:

    I so hope that you can finish another. But as always, I’m looking forward to reading more of Bryant and Mays and the Peculiar Crimes Unit, especially if it is the last recorded adventure. And , thank you for your stories. They have provided me with so much enjoyment over the years!

  39. admin says:

    Bryant & May change visually across the years. I think Keith Page’s renderings are closest and the worst is the cover of The Water Room (there are actually two very different covers for that one). And although there may be no more novels, there will be…a surprise.

  40. Susan Drees says:

    I, too, am so looking forward to this anniversary book. While I hope this is not the last for Bryant & May, I thank you Chris for the many hours of enjoyment you’ve gifted me over these many years.

  41. Helen Martin says:

    The world is going strange. In our news yesterday the story everyone focused on was a burglar who broke into a house and stole a number of items including five two week old kittens, the offspring of a cat named Mittens. The kittens have been reunited with their mother and now everyone can settle down for a nice sleep. What do you call a thief who steals kittens? A cat burglar [rim shot]
    A giggle a day is good for the emotions.

  42. Laura Hecht says:

    Mr. Fowler, thank you. Thank you very much.

  43. Suzanne says:

    I was trying to find a way to send a message of joy at having just read “Oranges and Lemons” when I came across this news of the coming end of Bryant and May. One day (one day!) I hope to get back to London, and like one writer above I have wished and hoped for a “Arthur Bryant’s Peculiar London’s Walking Tour Guide” to help me find the city behind the City. I will put my order in for this last volume and stay tuned for the surprise cunningly teased above. As Bryant was saying “I remember everything” on the last pages I head the voice of John Prine singing the very same thing on his last ever album. Which is really what it’s about, I suppose. Thank you for giving so much pleasure to this latecomer to the series.

  44. Jo McIntosh says:

    Like everyone else I am hoping that your treatment is successful and you continue writing these wonderfully quirky books. But if you have decided that Bryant and May need to finally retire then thank you for the joy you have given me and all your readers over the years

  45. J. Folgard says:

    I’ll join the chorus and say Thank you. You work has been buy-on-sight for about 25 years since I read Spanky and Roofworld, and Bryant & May are an absolute treasure, as characters and as novels. Take care of yourself!

  46. Silly Sully says:

    5 or 6 volumes into Bryant & May, I started to re-read the previous books prior to starting the new one…makes me doubly grateful for both your characters & your marvelous imagination. Also takes me out of commission for a week or so, but that’s not such a bad thing.

    THANK YOU for sharing your world!

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