By Christopher Fowler
Perhaps I could just stop you there before I go mad and kill you. (John May to Arthur Bryant)
It seems like only yesterday that I read and reviewed Christopher Fowler's The Water Room. Probably because it was actually just a few days ago. That was the second of Fowler's Bryant and May series and The Memory of Blood is the ninth. No need to dwell on my seeming inability to read a series in order and I'll point out that I'm actually going back to book one, with the intention of proceeding in order through the volumes I haven't read.
In any event, The Memory of Blood shows that Fowler didn't lose any momentum between books two and nine. I'm still not quite clear on why there seem to be so many works of "traditional" mystery that deal with the theater, but here's another one. Things get underway when the wealthy owner of a London theater throws a party at his home for the cast and crew of the latest production, along with a few other invitees.
Things soon get ugly, with a particularly nasty crime that essentially falls into the impossible category. Given the rather peculiar nature of the crime, the Peculiar Crimes Unit - including the aging but not quite over the hill crime-solving duo of John May and Arthur Bryant - are called in to sort it all out. More mayhem ensues before it's all said and done but I won't go into much in the way of specifics here. Suffice to say that, just as water was the underlying theme of The Water Room, so are puppets (yes, really) the theme of this one.
It's all a great deal of fun and a refreshing change in a time when it seems that everything coming through the mystery publishing pipeline is either a "thriller," chick-lit dressed up with a few mystery trappings, or a super-specific niche series about candy store owners and whatnot.