Insanity. An Old Nemesis. A Red Thread. Witches. A Mysterious Death. Political Wives. Codes. Secret Weapons.
For me, the Peculiar Crimes Unit Mysteries by Christopher Fowler get better with each new book. The tenth book in the series, The Invisible Code, is not only a good mystery, but it is also thought provoking, educational, funny, and a great escape from my everyday life. Unlike the earliest books in the series, Fowler clearly establishes Arthur Bryant as the main character, bringing more of his quirks and brilliance to the novel. For those new to the series, Bryant is a loveable curmudgeon, who is long past the age of retirement. He is notorious for using unusual means to solve crimes, including consulting with those associated with the esoteric and the occult.
Early in The Invisible Code, Bryant and his partner May are called into the office of their archnemesis, Osker Kasavian, the head of Home Office Security. Osker is scheduled to give a presentation that could make him the one man in charge of the UK's newly overhauled terrorism security system. But, he has a major problem; his much younger wife Sabira, who has been acting rather oddly recently. She thinks dark forces are trying to harm her. Finding the true cause of Sabira's problems appears to be a perfect assignment for Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Reluctantly they agree to take on the case, with the assurance that that it will benefit the unit. Most of the story centers around Sabira's life and Bryant's attempts to find the truth about her mental deterioration. Fowler takes the reader inside the world of political wives, discusses classism, describes secret codes and describes ways the rich handled insanity.
I was much in need of a mental vacation, and so I spent a day just reading this novel. I especially enjoyed how Fowler laid out the mystery chapter by chapter, enticing me to try and figure out what was really happening. Focusing on Bryant and on Sabira made the story richer, although part of me misses learning about what is happening with the the other members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Perhaps Fowler could write some short stories that focus on some of the other characters. By the end of the story, Bryant had gained a new nemesis, making me hungry for the next book in the series.