The Burning Man by Christopher Fowler
Published by Doubleday
26th March 2015
London is under siege. A banking scandal has filled the city with violent protests, and as the anger in the streets detonates, a young homeless man burns to death after being caught in the crossfire between rioters and the police.
But all is not as it seems; an opportunistic killer is using the chaos to exact revenge, but his intended victims are so mysteriously chosen that the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to find a way of stopping him.
Using their network of eccentric contacts, elderly detectives Arthur Bryant and John May hunt down a murderer who adopts incendiary methods of execution. But they soon find their investigation taking an apocalyptic turn as the case comes to involve the history of mob rule, corruption, rebellion, punishment and the legend of Guy Fawkes.
At the same time, several members of the PCU team reach dramatic turning points in their lives - but the most personal tragedy is yet to come, for as the race to bring down a cunning killer reaches its climax, Arthur Bryant faces his own devastating day of reckoning.
‘I always said we’d go out with a hell of a bang,’ warns Bryant.
This is the twelfth Bryan and May novel by Christopher Fowler, but it is the first one I've actually read. I have no idea why this crime series hasn't been brought to my attention before, but I'm glad that I've now finally found it.
Bryant and May are two old-school detectives, trying to work in the modern day. Arthur Bryant can only be considered eccentric by those who work around him, but his unusual methods bring with them their own successes, and whilst there are many who would like the team to work in a much more orthodox way, there is no arguing that Bryant and May get results.
London is under seige from protestors. The banking world has been filled with scandals that are considered unacceptable by the masses, and riots are filling the streets. With Guy Fawkes night approaching, the rioters are lighting bonfires, wearing masks and creating as much mischief as is legally possible. This means that for those who want to pave their own path of destruction, things just got a little bit easier.
When a homeless man is found burnt to death in a disused building, the team are called in to investigate. Then a second death occurs and links between the two, however flimsy they may seem, are made. Arthur Bryant fears a serial killer may be at work, but can they stop him, or her, before their pyromaniac fantasies spiral out of control?
In between solving the case, Bryant is facing his own demons too. For a man whose mind is legendary on the force, at the times when he needs it most, it is starting to fail him. Can he remain sharp enough, and on the team, to continue with finding the killer before it is too late?
I really enjoyed Christopher Fowler's style of writing, and I adored the characters of Bryant and May. His incorporation of the history of London was both fascinating and interesting, and added another element to the reading of The Burning Man. I only hope that this isn't the last in the series, but I'm planning on catching up with those I've missed out on just as soon as I can!