Ghost Appreciation Month – The End

1 11 2010

[Written by Assistant Editor and Ghost Appreciation Month member, Sharon Ring.]

Ordinarily it would have been Mark Deniz, Beyond Fiction’s Editor-in-Chief, writing the round-up of this past month’s appreciation of all things ghostly. However, Mark has been at an undisclosed location enjoying some pre-birthday celebrations so it has fallen to me to pick up the mantle on this occasion and say a few words on Ghost Appreciation Month (GAM).

We’ve enjoyed thirty-one days of movies at Beyond Fiction. I’ve had the chance to watch some old favourites; The Haunting, Don’t Look Now, Jacob’s Ladder, and The Shining rating highly on that front. I’ve also had the opportunity to see four fantastic films which had previously managed to slip under the radar; The Frighteners, Session 9, Shutter, and Saint Ange (House Of Voices). It’s been great to see how trends in ghost movies have come and gone over the decades: from silent movies to the talkies, black & white to colour, from Hollywood through Europe and Asia. With the exception of a handful of films on the Ghost Appreciation Month’s list, such as Ghostbusters and The Frighteners, the driving force behind any decent ghost movie has always been the power of suggestion. The best films in the genre, from my point of view at least, are often those which play with image and sound in such a way as to render the actual seeing of a ghost almost unnecessary. Asymmetrical cinematography, discordant music and sound effects: these tools all lead the way to making a film’s audience feel uneasy, taking them out of their comfort zones and into the unknown.

GAM contributors reviewed around half the movies on Mark’s film list, with a few extra film reviews thrown in for good measure. It’s always interesting to read another person’s take on a movie you love, even more interesting to read a friend’s review of a movie on which you weren’t so keen. Point in case: The Blair Witch Project. I have seen this movie several times over the years, but never all at once. I’d watch the beginning and fall asleep: I’d get back from the pub and watch the last twenty minutes: never all in one go, however. Now, Mark Deniz loves this movie, positively raves about it. What the heck, I thought; now’s my chance to give it the full attention it apparently deserves. I watched it. It didn’t do for me what it seems to do for Mark and so many other people. Reading Mark’s review and listening to comments over on Facebook when I mentioned having finally seen the movie, I can appreciate that this was a groundbreaking film. I wish I could have seen it when it was released, at a time before spoofs and countless half-watches. I believe the impact it had on people back then is something I may have experienced myself. Never mind. Mark and I will have to agree to disagree on this one. Either that or fight it out at FantasyCon next year in comedy sumo suits (yes, Mark, that is a challenge!).

 

I will be the one in the red mawashi. Victory shall be mine.

 

Aside from my rather bizarre encounter with a ghostly Charles Dickens (man, that is one ghost with serious acceptance issues), GAM had two interviews in the line-up – Gary McMahon and Stephen Volk. Gary and I talked about his own ghost experience; the cultural and historical background of belief in ghosts; a little Mitchell-dissing (check out the Guardian article from David Mitchell to see how that came about); ghosts as metaphor; and finally onto a few words about his new book, which centres on a man who is able to see ghosts. Stephen and Mark discussed Stephen’s current hectic schedule; how and why Ghostwatch came to be; Stephen’s thoughts on the afterlife; some advice for budding screenwriters and a little industry talk; and wrapped things up with a quick question on Stephen’s favourite authors. This second interview along with a review of Ghostwatch the following day could not have been better timed. Halloween 2010 was the eighteenth anniversary of the original screening of the drama and, for reasons Natalie Kingston explains in her review, it has never been shown since.

Throughout the month, dotted between the reviews and interviews, were a series of articles and real-life experiences from our GAM contributors. I should say at this point that I have my own particular thoughts on the subject of ghosts. I’ve seen some – I definitely believe in the existence of them – but I maintain a healthy scepticism when it comes to other people’s stories, as I hope they would do with my own. Reading through this month’s posts I think the one which affected me most was probably Alison Littlewood’s short piece on the Isle of the Dead. No cheap thrills and ghostly apparitions here, just a poignant telling of the trip to a small cemetery island off the shores of Loch Leven.

So, there’s been plenty to read, watch and think about over this past month. There is a dedicated page for all the Ghost Appreciation Month posts for ease of reference.

On Mark’s behalf I would like to thank everyone who took part in the past month’s fun and to everyone who kindly tweeted and shared links on Twitter and Facebook. Now, for those of you who know Mark, you know this is a man who never rests. I think there’s a fairly good chance we’ll see another of these themed months sometime in the future. Perhaps we’ll see you there.

 

It's time for us to say farewell

 





Interview with Gary McMahon for Ghost Appreciation Month

25 10 2010

[Conducted by Ghost Appreciation Month team member, Sharon Ring]

SR – We’re enjoying Ghost Appreciation Month at Beyond Fiction right now so I guess the first question has to be whether or not you believe in ghosts?

GM – The rational side of me says, no. The only people who claim to have seen ghosts always see them at night, and usually when they’re either half asleep or in a state of anxiety. But then another tiny part of me, the back-brain being, says “Hang on. Why even try to rationalise this?”

Plus, I’ve had my own “ghostly” encounter.

SR – Well, you can’t just leave it at that. Care to elaborate?

GM – Oh, okay then.

When I first lived in London I shared a big old house with two mates. My room was on the first floor, at the back of the house. At night I started to hear what sounded like pipes banging on the underside of the floorboards. Or fists.

This went on for several nights, and when I queried my housemates (one whose room was directly beneath mine) they’d heard nothing. But the sound was almost deafening it was so loud – it would wake me up.

Then I started having the sensation of someone sitting on the end of the bed, on my feet. Really heavily, as if they were throwing themselves down. And one of my housemates admitted to hearing kids in the garden when he was in a room at the back of the house one afternoon. When he looked out of the window, there was nobody there.

This did start around the time I saw The Blair Witch Project…so maybe it was just my overactive imagination triggered by the film (which scared the shit out of me).

SRSo, how did it all end? Did you move house and not give it much though after that? Or is it something which creeps back into your mind once in a while?

GM – We did move out not long after, but it actually reached the point where I was terrified to go to sleep – obviously, this anxiety led to more of that bed-sitting action (that’s how I explain it, anyway). Admittedly, it was a very weird experience, and I was genuinely frightened. I do think of it now and then, but only when I tell people the story.

SR – Has it never made an appearance in any of your stories then?

GM – I don’t think that particular episode has, no, but others have – things people have told me. There was the time a friend of mine woke up in the night, saw a girl in a long white dress standing at the end of the bed. The girl said “Do you like my dress?” My friend – a very unflappable and down-to-earth girl – said “Yes, it’s lovely.” The girl replied “It’s the one they buried me in.” and walked out of the room. Amazingly, my friend just woke her husband, told him, and then went back to sleep. The husband sat up the rest of the night, shitting himself.

I sort of collect people’s ghostly experiences…they fascinate me.

SR – David Mitchell said, in a recent Guardian article, that the English have a rather peculiar obsession with ghosts. Do you think this is true? And isn’t every culture just as obsessed?

GM – Yes. Well, I read that article and to be honest I thought it was very uninformed. It riled me when he said that the literature of the ghost story was rubbish, and admitted he was basing this assumption on half a collection of MR James stories. I like Mitchell as a comedian…perhaps he should just keep to being a funny man.

But, to answer your question, I don’t think we’re as obsessed with ghosts as much as, say, the Chinese or the people of south-east Asia.

In China ghosts are seen as a part of life; the spirit world exists side-by-side with the corporeal world.

Japan, Tibet, South America, all these cultures are in tune with their ghosts.

SR – So with the English, perhaps, it might be more that we enjoy being sceptics, or that deep down the thought of another existence beyond the corporeal world is just that little bit too scary, so we end up mocking it, making a joke out of it?

GM – Perhaps: there is a rich traditional of humour in English ghostly tales. But I think a lot of it is also mixed up with our sense of history. That gothic element, with mist-shrouded moors and crumbling castles. Our history almost demands to be haunted, to have its ghosts.

Just to drop this one you: I think all fictional ghosts are metaphors anyway.

SR – Can you explain what you mean by fictional ghosts as metaphors?

GM – Well, because I don’t believe in ghosts I can only take them seriously as metaphor. For example, Fritz Leiber’s ghost in “Smoke Ghost” is a metaphor for the city, how it shapes its own reality. Ramsey Campbell’s ghosts are metaphors for whatever kind of psychological area he’s exploring in a certain tale.

For me, a ghost story must have this psychological aspect for it to work beyond a cheap scare. The ghosts have to mean something.

SR – How do modern writers move away from the traditional methods of telling ghost stories? There aren’t many people living in castles these days, how do we move ghosts into the high-rise blocks and housing estates?

GM – Fritz Leiber did this with “Smoke Ghost”, but even MR James was doing it in stories like “Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, my Lad” – my favourite ever ghost story. Leiber’s ghosts were both created by and made from the city – industrial smoke, litter, dead dreams of the people crammed into grotty tenements. James’s ghosts (whatever David Mitchell might think) had a deeply psychological aspect – they represented, or were summoned by, the characters’ mental state, by their anxieties. Scratch the surface of a James’ spook-ride and what you have is a fractured mind conjuring phantoms.

I’ve always thought the best equation for a ghost story is when a haunted person meets a haunted place.

James did that, Leiber did that, Campbell, King, Shirley Jackson…they all mastered that equation.

SR – How do you think ghost stories fare in the modern market when compared with say, flouncy vampires or, at the other extreme, full-on gore movies? Do ghostly tales get short shrift in mainstream horror?

GM – It’s difficult to say – I’m going to admit that I don’t read much mainstream horror fiction. I haven’t touched any of the teen-vampire stuff because it leaves me cold – I loved Justin Cronin’s “The Passage”, though. There’s some good zombie fiction out there (zombies are the latest craze, because they’re a catch-all metaphor themselves, and we’re living in what feels like apocalyptic times). A lot of ghostly fiction seems to stem from the literary end of the market.

Some of the best ghost stories I’ve read recently have certainly been marketed as mainstream fiction rather than genre.

SR – Care to share a title or two?

GM – Well, the best one is “House of Leaves” by Mark Z. Danielewski. And there’s “The Body Artist” by Don Delillo. The latter is a ghost story without a ghost – which is something that interests me greatly.

Neither of these was ever marketed as “horror” fiction.

“Death of a Murderer” by Rupert Thomson is another.

SR – Your latest book, Pretty Little Dead Things, is a ghost story. What got you started on it and how did Thomas Usher come into being?

GM – About 5 years ago I started writing a bunch of short stories about Thomas Usher – an ordinary man who lost his wife and daughter in a car accident and somehow gained an ability to see the dead. I’ve now written 13 stories about him, and two novels. Pretty Little Dead Things was an attempt to break out of the constrictive format I’d made for myself in the short stories (basically, Usher investigating weird events) and create a sort of mythology. It’s the easiest novel I’ve ever written – everything just blossomed, and I learned a lot about Thomas Usher.

In the sequel, Dead Bad Things, I even learned about the genesis of Usher’s ability.

SR – So, while writing Pretty Little Dead Things, this was something which had yet to develop fully in your own thoughts? That must be quite the experience then, understanding you have more to learn about the character as each book is written?

GM – That’s exactly what happened: I started off with a rough idea of the plot, and Usher’s role in it, but the book just expanded and took its own shape. It was fascinating, and I also learned a lot about how my mind works when I’m writing. It does mean, though, that I’m going to have to do slight rewrites of all the stories to make them fit in with the character’s mythology. I wrote the shorts when I barely knew anything about Usher, and now that some of his secrets have been revealed I realise that some tweaks are required.

The character started out, in the short stories, as my modern version of a Carnacki or a John Silence, but in the novels he kind of warped into a supernatural Travis Bickle.

I was reading a lot of crime fiction when I started writing the novels, and some of that – especially David Peace’s Red Riding books – sort of filtered into the Usher novels, helping to solidify Usher’s voice and his motivations.

SR – One last question, Gary. Any chance of giving Beyond Fiction readers a hint or two of what’s coming up in the next Thomas Usher novel?

GM – Usher is in London, gone underground after the events in the first book. He starts receiving messages – a clockwork voice on the phone, a Rwandan psychic who hears voices, hellish visions in a derelict riverside warehouse. He slowly realises that the answers to these riddles, and perhaps to the questions he has never dared ask about his personal history, will only be revealed if he returns home to Leeds…

Once there his path will cross with Trevor Dove, a young police constable called Sarah Doherty, and the Pilgrim, in a confrontation that threatens the fabric of reality.





Bryant & May Mysteries – ‘The Water Room’ by Christopher Fowler

29 09 2010

'The Water Room' by Christopher Fowler, 432pp, Bantam, ISBN: 0553815539

Reviewed by Sharon Ring.

Onwards with book two in the Bryant & May Mysteries, The Water Room. When last we met the detecting duo we had a glimpse into the modern day Peculiar Crimes Unit and also learned of how the Unit was formed. In the second novel, we’re back to the present day with the octogenarian detectives both unofficially taking on cases as favours for old friends. Bryant begins looking into the seemingly innocent death of an old lady, the sister of Bryant’s friend Benjamin Singh. Discovered in the basement bathroom of her Kentish Town home it looks, at first glance, as though Ruth may have died a peaceful death. Nothing is that simple though, especially not in the crazy world of Arthur Bryant. Ruth’s body is fully dressed as if to go out and a post-mortem examination of Ruth’s body uncovers traces of stagnant Thames water in her mouth. An open verdict is placed on Ruth’s death but Bryant is far from satisfied and it’s only a matter of time before he’s allowed to plunge back into the investigation.

May’s favour for a friend comes in the form of a plea for help from an old flame, Monica Greenwood. Monica is convinced her academic husband, Gareth, is involved in something shady: it’s happened before, a taint on Gareth’s employment record and a second mistake could be the end of his career, so Monica turns to May for assistance in discovering just what her husband is getting up to. Early investigations point towards Greenwood’s involvement in a search for some forgotten piece of Egyptian treasure, a search which takes him, and the detectives, deep underground through London’s lost rivers.

Meanwhile, back in Balaklava Street, Kentish Town Benjamin Singh has fought off the bullying tactics of property developers Garrett and Moss to sell his sister’s house to a young woman called Kallie Owen. Kallie moves in with her boyfriend Paul and is immediately beset with the kind of problems faced by any first-time owner of a fixer-upper – electrics, plumbing – everything needs Kallie’s attention. The most troubling part of the house is the basement bathroom where Ruth’s body was discovered by Benjamin. Plagued by spiders and an increasingly present sound of rushing water, Kallie is wary of spending any more time in there than is absolutely necessary.

Inevitably, Bryant and May’s separate investigations converge and move back in on Balaklava Street. The detectives are faced with more deaths; more inexplicable connections and a street full of uncooperative suburbanites. The residents of Balaklava Street are about as suburban as you can get. Crumbling marriages hidden behind twitching nets, unhappy kids with pushy parents, elderly neighbours left uncared for and a little too much social climbing for life to ever be just right for more than one of the street’s residents.

With the heavens opening and London’s rivers rising, much of the Unit’s time is spent getting drenched. Fowler captures a damp and dark London as the city scurries out of a late September heatwave and into a rain-soaked October. The monsoon-like weather is put to excellent use, both helping and hindering the detectives in their quest to unravel the twin mysteries.

The Water Room is as well-plotted and delivered a novel as the first book in the series, Full Dark House. Having given us a thorough grounding in the creation of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, introducing us to the eccentricities of how the team works and the tangents at which an investigation more often than not takes, Fowler launches the reader into the fascinating world of London’s almost forgotten underground river system. And this, as with Full Dark House, is the crux on which much of the excellence of these books rests, London.

London is one those cities which people tend to love or hate. There’s rarely a middle ground and it’s unlikely you’ll find someone who’s just indifferent about the place. For me, London has always been synonymous with grime, oppression, hostility and arrogance. I pass through on my way to somewhere more inviting; I nip in for an occasional book signing and museum visit. It’s all very quick and mostly seen through the windows of coaches, trains and buses, and the endless corridors of tube stations. Seeing the city through Fowler’s born and bred Londoner’s eye, I’m beginning to see a different city: the city lived in and loved by all those people who rush through its streets at all hours, the pubs I’ll probably never visit, the foibles and quirks of a place I will never quite understand.

London becomes, within the pages of the Bryant and May Mysteries, a place of wonder; a place quite removed from my own long-held prejudices. If you take a look around Christopher Fowler’s website, it’s possible to check out some of the locations from each of the stories, a particularly nice touch and one which brings out my inner geek, tempting me to spend a weekend in London walking the Bryant & May trail. I may yet do it!

The next book in the series is Seventy-Seven Clocks which I’ll be reviewing in due course, along with a few thoughts on Christopher Fowler and why reading these books is akin to the putting on of the most comfortable shoes you’ll ever wear.

So, until next time, farewell!





‘The Reapers Are the Angels’ by Alden Bell

3 09 2010

'The Reapers Are The Angels' by Alden Bell, 304 pp, Tor, ISBN: 9780230748644

[Reviewed by Sharon Ring]

The Reapers Are The Angels by Alden Bell is a novel aimed, in part, at the young adult market. Why, then, am I reviewing a book which would normally pass under my radar? Two reasons.

The first is zombies. Yes, I know they’re everywhere on screen and in movies right now. I love them – I can’t help it. Whether they are the slow, shuffling variety most favoured in literature and cinema or the fast-moving rabid zombies of movies like 28 Days Later, zombies are the wreakers of havoc. And where havoc is wreaked, I’ll be there: watching the movies and reading the books.

The second reason is post-apocalyptic, dystopian fiction. This sort of fiction is utterly fascinating. It may be dealing with the apocalyptic event itself and its immediate aftermath: it may leap into the future to the long-term consequences and mankind’s struggle to restructure some semblance of civilisation. No matter where it begins and in which direction it travels, fiction which describes a broken society and the people left behind excels at putting the human species under a microscope and showing us the very best and worst of ourselves.

The novel begins with a miracle. Temple, the protagonist, is living on a small island just off the coast of Florida. Its only building, a lighthouse, has been deserted for years and Temple is now leading a solitary existence. She has a simple routine, an order to her life which escape to the island has allowed her in recent weeks. The miracle happens at night, under a bright moon, when she’s down by the shore. Standing ankle-deep in the water, she spies tiny iridescent fish swimming around her feet. The bright moon and beautifully coloured fish create a moment of sheer magic for Temple who is, essentially, still very much a child despite being halfway through her teens.

The world changed and zombies, or meatskins, as they are called in this story came into existence before Temple was born and some years before the narrative begins. This is the only world she has ever known and, after bearing witness to a child-like Temple, someone who can take pure delight in the beauty of nature, we are drawn back into that world and begin to learn how Temple has managed to survive on her own for the past few years.

What follows is part road-trip, part coming-of-age tale and part examination of the human condition as seen through Temple’s eyes.

Three thoughts in particular arose from my reading of this book, three threads which not only hold the narrative together but also serve to make it stand out from the crowd in recent novels of a similar nature.

The first of these threads is the difference in how Temple views herself and how the reader actually sees her. Temple is tough, unforgiving and riddled with guilt. Glimpses into her past offer clues as to how this guilt came to form such an overriding part of her psychological make-up. She shuns the larger groups of survivors yet at the same time yearns for their company, never quite grasping what it means to belong and always assuming she’ll have to move on sooner or later. What the reader sees is a young woman who, denied a real childhood, has carved out an identity which remains largely impenetrable to anyone she encounters. She has witnessed, and been a victim of, sights and events to which no child should ever be subjected. Where Temple assigns herself guilt and shame, the reader can see all that Temple has endured and all she has had to do to survive: the shame and guilt are, perversely, a means of self-protection.

The second and third of these threads are more tightly connected. Throughout the novel Temple meets with many other survivors, sometimes as individuals, other times encountering larger communities. To me, each of these encounters have a double purpose. They are both a reflection of how the human race will constantly strive to form a coherent society, no matter how warped that society may seem from the outside looking in: they are also a strong reflection of all the potential carried by Temple herself, for both good and bad.

Two relationships in particular are forged and these serve as especially strong mirror images of Temple. In one large community, Temple is forced to kill a young man, Abraham, who attempts to rape her. She flees the community, pursued by Abraham’s older brother, Moses. He agrees with her during one encounter that she had to do what was necessary and that his brother had been a bad person but he is also honour-bound to avenge Abraham’s death, even if that means oblivion for himself. His pursuit is relentless, as is Temple’s desire to survive and it takes the entire novel for the two characters to eventually resolve the feud, one way or another. The other relationship is with a young man who Temple finds in a deserted town as he’s trying to carry his deceased grandmother away from the meatskins. He’s a mute and, although it’s never made completely clear to the reader, quite possibly autistic. Temple’s initial indecision about bringing him along on her journey crops up again throughout the narrative as she is often thinking about ways to dump him along the road. Her sense of responsibility keeps kicking in, however: she is as honour-bound as Moses to do what she feels is the right thing.

The Reapers Are The Angels is an exceptionally well-crafted novel. It has depth and beauty which is no easy task to convey in a zombie novel. Alden Bell has much to be proud of with this book.





Bryant & May Mysteries – ‘Full Dark House’ by Christopher Fowler

19 08 2010

'Full Dark House' by Christopher Fowler, 416 pp, Bantam, ISBN: 0553815520

[Reviewed by Sharon Ring]

Right, where were we? In my last blog post, I told you how I came to read the sixth book in Christopher Fowler‘s Bryant & May Mysteries. It was a good read but I felt I needed to go back and start the series as it was intended. And so I did just that. I think I may have also mentioned I’m a little in love with this series. This, then, is not just any old review: this is a Bryant & May review, an account of my burgeoning love affair with Messrs. Arthur Bryant and John May.

I don’t do crime fiction, not strictly speaking anyway. I can appreciate a finely turned detective novel that keeps me guessing to the end and I certainly don’t mind crime fiction that includes an element of horror. Generally though, I find crime fiction to be lacking in heart. By its very nature, all that detective malarkey can be quite cold and clinical, even if all the detecting is being done by a maverick cop or unconventional private eye. Logic is followed, the narrative is linear and that doesn’t excite me.

Full Dark House has that elusive element though – it has heart – and that sets it apart from much crime fiction.

The story begins with the death of one of the partners, Arthur, in an explosion at the Peculiar Crimes Unit offices. Arthur and his partner, John May, have been working with the Peculiar Crimes Unit since the Second World War: there is closeness and camaraderie between the two old men and John is left devastated by the loss of his old friend. John begins looking into the explosion and finds his partner had been dabbling in the past, digging up elements of their first case together. The reader is then drawn into a series of analepses, learning about the original case as well as the current investigation by May into his friend’s death. It’s a common enough trick employed by authors to provide a backdrop to the narrative but Fowler uses the trick to provide outstanding richness and an extra layer to the story.

Bryant & May’s inaugural case runs alongside the present investigation. Nothing is rushed here as the two mysteries are expertly presented for the readers to work out. The reader is, quite literally, getting two stories for the price of one. That extra layer comes from Fowler using the first case flashbacks as a means to define the relationship between the two men and to give substance to their long history as the backbone of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. It is exceptionally well crafted and makes Full Dark House by far one of the strongest introductions to a series of crime novels I’ve ever read.

So, there are quite a few books in the Bryant & May Mysteries. It’d be a shame to use these reviews just to tell you, in non-spoiler fashion, vaguely what transpires. I think what I’d prefer to do is focus on one particular aspect of the series as each novel gets reviewed. As it’s the first book in the series and this is where we find out how the partnership of Bryant & May came to be, then this is what I’d like to focus on right now.

Arthur Bryant and John May meet as colleagues at the Peculiar Crimes Unit during the Blitz. As Fowler tells us, prior to the men’s first meeting, “it was a good place to forge a friendship”. Neither man has gone off to fight the war. Bryant’s health issues, a special dispensation from the Port of London Authority and another, as yet unexplained reason have brought him to work in the unit. May is waiting on confirmation of a war-related post to come up, code-breaker, and has been sent to work alongside Bryant until then.

The two men, despite being mismatched in so many ways, quickly develop a strong rapport as they enter their first case, a suspicious death at a London theatre. Fowler uses the case to show us just how these men’s minds work. John May is a logical man, following leads and procedure as he’s been trained to do: he’s also a bit of a lady’s man, indulging in a brief dalliance with one of the theatre girls. This is perfectly offset by Bryant’s tangential and anarchic ways: he is gifted with insight into all things weird and sees clues where nobody else can, sweeping procedure and paperwork aside in his desire to get at the truth of things.

The friendship between these two men runs deep and true: it would have been easy to lapse into schmaltz when telling their story but Fowler keeps the narrative sharp and witty throughout, giving depth to the characters both as individuals and as a team. There is a real sense of history here, not just in how long they’ve known one another but also in the intensity of the relationship and how interwoven their thinking has become.

Well, that’s Full Dark House. Next up for review will be The Water Room along with some thoughts on the grand old city of London.





The Bryant & May Mysteries – An Introduction

16 08 2010

[written by Sharon Ring]

Sometime last year I received a book from Transworld publishers, the latest (at the time) in the Bryant & May Series by Christopher Fowler. One night, while pondering the possibility of a new title to read and review, I grabbed the novel and decided to give it a whirl.

I read the book in one sitting, staying awake all night in order to finish it. Now, it was a good read, don’t get me wrong here, but something was amiss. Nothing wrong with the story itself, as you’ll see when I get round to reviewing it sometime in the future, my problem was having leapt into the series when it was six books in.

Ah, I thought out loud, I shall resolve this dilemma by reading the series from the beginning. Problem solved. Time moved on, other books were read and reviewed but I never forgot my decision to seek out the first Bryant & May novel as and when time permitted.

That time is now. I am two titles in, not counting the later, sixth novel and I am very much in love with this series. The two detectives in the novels, Arthur Bryant and John May, have won me over completely and reviewing the series for Beyond Fiction is going to be an absolute delight. First up will be Full Dark House, look out for the review later this week.

The man behind the Bryant & May Mysteries - Christopher Fowler