Bryant & May: Strange Tide by Christopher Fowler
The mighty River Thames; Houdini; New Age healing; hallucinations; and Alzheimer’s: they are all topics in this latest installment of the cases of Bryant & May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Again Fowler takes what seem to be disparate themes, and weaves together a brilliant tale.
The body of a young woman is found chained to a post at low-tide, with only one set of footsteps indicating her journey to that spot. Reminiscent of a locked-room mystery, the team scramble to work out how she came to be there. In the meantime, Arthur’s periods of forgetfulness are becoming more frequent and are now including delusions, and he’s eventually confined to his home. There, he’s able to ruminate on the case and consult with the many odd and eccentric characters that periodically help him. It always comes back to the “River” for him.
May makes a poor judgement call and is suspended from duties, further complicating matters for his co-workers.
Meanwhile, the rest of the team is quickly learning that without Bryant’s presence in the Unit, they just don’t function. He’s the cog in the wheel that keeps everything rolling along, regardless of his forgetfulness. When a suspect becomes clear to the Unit, there is no immediate evidence to actually tie them to the crimes. And the River keeps calling them…perhaps Bryant is right…and it is the clue to the solution.
A great read!
Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
This third book in the Cormoran Strike series hits a very gruesome note. When a package is addressed and delivered to Robin at Strike’s office, it is revealed to be the severed leg of a young woman. Strike is certain that one of three persons is responsible for this possible murder, the least being his former stepfather, Jeff Whittaker. Foreshadowing of the disturbing events to come is done chapter by chapter with quotations from the many songs by the heavy-metal rock band, Blue Oyster Cult.
As Strike pursues the suspects on his list, Robin takes the initiative to explore related avenues, which expose her to great danger.
I could do without the gory details of the many and various body parts that are hacked off and the methods that the killer uses to bring down his victims, often recited to us in the first person. To me it’s a bit too “over the top” – almost to the point of being gratuitous violence.
What I do like is how Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) fleshes out the characters of Strike and Robin, describing their respective back stories. There’s no doubt that Robin is the star in this novel. She’s become more confident and assertive in both her private and professional life, and we are now able to understand why these things have been so difficult for her, given what we now know of her history.
I’m anxious to see where the story goes from here as the surprises at the end of this novel have the potential to push it forward in many directions. Cormoran and Robin are quite the team and I look forward to reading more of them, but with less gore to their cases!