Monday, March 30, 2015

Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart (Mystery Novel)

After reading Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart, I have once again put the Bryant and May Series by Christopher Fowler on the top of my list of favorite book series. The Bleeding Heart has the right blend of silliness and seriousness. It has a good mystery that had me holding my breath in places. It has good heart. And, of course, it contains arcane facts about London that Fowler is so good at uncovering.

The Invisible Code, the last book in the series, ended with a bit of foreboding. Bryant had found a new nemesis, Mr. Merry, a necromancer. In Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart, Mr. Merry menaces the somewhat fragile Bryant. But, first things first, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is under new jurisdiction, reporting to the City of London. They now report to Orion Banks, who unfortunately speaks little conversational English. She is, on the other hand, fluent in marketing and business jargon. (Fowler almost had me rolling on the floor laughing.) The Peculiar Crimes Unit must solve two mysteries: a man reportedly rising from the dead and the disappearance of the ravens from the Tower of London. In addition, Janice Longbright has finally risked her heart in love, with Jack Renfield. Janice’s attempt to befriend his teenage daughter results in unexpected consequences.

Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart has what I refer to as “good heart.” We finally find out Bryant’s backstory, why he became a police officer. We see Bryant in all his vulnerability and all his strength. While Longbright’s story is a secondary plotline, it is well developed, giving her the attention that she deserves and making us feel for her. Fowler develops the character of one of the victims so well that we feel his lost after his murder. With the addition of Banks, Fowler asks the question, “What role can the Peculiar Crimes Unit possibly play in a world where cyber and white collar crime are now the fares of the day?” The question made me look at my own place is this rapidly evolving world.

Bryant and May and the Bleeding Heart is a little—just a little— lighter on the occult and on Bryant’s usual shenanigans than in some of the earlier books in the series. In their place is some stronger character development. The novel was just the right blend for me, keeping me as a loyal fan of the series.

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