Review: Bryant & May: Strange Tide by Christopher Fowler. Bantam

I am an enthusiastic reader of the Peculiar Crimes Unit books, and this latest entry continues the splendid tradition.

 

There are actually at least three story lines encountered early on. The first is the status of the Peculiar Crimes Unit itself. Arthur Bryant, that brilliant but thoroughly eccentric sleuth, has a problem: he is apparently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disorder. So his quirkiness is joined by random episodes of hallucination, endangering him personally and causing no end of consternation, but also impacting the Unit itself–because without Bryant’s brilliance, the Unit is no longer what it was. Second, we meet Ali, a desperate, clever refugee who finds his way to Britain and embarks on his personal crusade to remake himself as a typical Londoner, blending in and becoming successful from the edges of society. Third is the case the newspapers have dubbed the “Bride in the Tide”: a beautiful young woman who is an apparent suicide on the banks of the Thames under extraordinary and baffling circumstances.

 

Christopher Fowler has set quite a task for himself, as these three threads are interwoven into the complex tapestry that forms a formidable challenge for the storied Peculiar Crimes Unit. The very existence of the Unit would appear to be on the line. Will this be the end of this excellent series?

 

The River Thames becomes a major player in the story; we are given a wealth of learned information on the history and mythology of this river and the great city it is a part of. Strange Tide is an engrossing tour de force of writing fashioned by a masterful writer: finely crafted, richly layered, and enormously satisfying.

 

My sincere thanks to author, publisher, and NetGalley for providing an advance copy to read and review, which was my pleasure.

 

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