Nothing makes me happier than finding a new Bryant & May, by Christopher Fowler. The Memory of Blood brings back the whole cast of characters from the Peculiar Crimes Unit. We are cleverly informed of their personalities and peccadillos from a “Wikileaks document”. Arthur St. John Bryant and John May are the senior detectives and solver of the most difficult crimes. This time Fowler uses London theatrical history to capture his audience.
Our host for the New Strand Theatre production, The Two Murderers, is the less than scrupulous entrepeneur, Robert Kramer. Combine him with an unhappy wife, unfaithful lovers, a set designer with an interest in torture chambers, a plagiarizing playwright, murderous puppets, and you’ve got a perfect Peculiar Crimes Unit story.
Nathan, baby of Robert and Judith Kramer is mysteriously strangled by Punch (of Punch & Judy fame) and tossed from the window. There we begin a string of deaths, with ties to The Two Murderers and the Punch and Judy characters. Twists and turns, as Bryant & May, and their team look to solve a hanging, death by Scold’s Bridle, and pitchfork. Even amid murder and mayhem, there are plenty of laugh out loud moments between characters.
A side story involves Arthur Bryant writing his memoirs and the mysterious demise of his editor, Anna Marquand, with national security implications, of course. Never a dull moment in a Christopher Fowler mystery.