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The Memory of Blood

Cover of The Memory of Blood

The Memory of Blood

Bryant and May Series, Book 9
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Christopher Fowler's acclaimed Peculiar Crimes Unit novels crackle with sly wit, lively suspense, and twists as chilling as London's fog. Now the indomitable duo of Arthur Bryant and John May, along...
Christopher Fowler's acclaimed Peculiar Crimes Unit novels crackle with sly wit, lively suspense, and twists as chilling as London's fog. Now the indomitable duo of Arthur Bryant and John May, along...
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Description-
  • Christopher Fowler's acclaimed Peculiar Crimes Unit novels crackle with sly wit, lively suspense, and twists as chilling as London's fog. Now the indomitable duo of Arthur Bryant and John May, along with the rest of their quirky team, return to solve a confounding case with dark ties to the British theater and a killer who may mean curtains for all involved.

    For the crew of the New Strand Theatre, the play The Two Murderers seems less performance than prophecy when a cast party ends in the shocking death of the theater owner's son. The crime scene is most unusual, even for Bryant and May. In a locked bedroom without any trace of fingerprints or blood, the only sign of disturbance is a gruesome life-size puppet of Mr. Punch laying on the floor. Everyone at the party is a suspect, including the corrupt producer, the rakish male lead, the dour set designer, and the assistant stage manager, who is the wild daughter of a prominent government official.

    It's this last fact that threatens the Peculiar Crimes Unit's investigation, as the government's Home Office, wary of the team's eccentric methods, seeks to throw them off the case. But the nimble minds of Bryant and May are not so easily deterred. Delving into the history of the London theater and the disturbing origins of Punch and Judy, the detectives race to find the maniacal killer before he reaches his even deadlier final act.

    Whip-smart and endlessly entertaining, The Memory of Blood is an ingeniously intricate mystery from the deliciously inventive Christopher Fowler.

    BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Christopher Fowler's The Invisible Code.

    Praise for The Memory of Blood

    "[The Memory of Blood] breathes new life into the locked-room mystery. . . . Spiced with a little screwball-comedy dialogue and a touch of the occult."--The Washington Post

    "Great fun."--The Seattle Times

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Chamber of Horrors

    Arthur Bryant stood there pretending not to shiver.

    He was tightly wrapped in a 1951 Festival of Britain scarf, with a Bloody Mary in one hand and a ketchup-crusted cocktail sausage in the other. Above his head, a withered yellow corpse hung inside a rusting gibbet iron.

    'Well,' he said, 'this is nice, isn't it?'

    His partner, John May, was not so consoled. The great chamber was freezing. Rain was pattering into an array of galvanised buckets. The smell of mildewed brickwork assailed his nostrils. A few feet behind him, the Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins was stabbing a thin- bladed knife into a screaming priest, looking for the marks of the Devil. On the other side of the detectives stood a torture rack and several members of the Spanish Inquisition clad in crimson robes, armed with flaming brands and scourges.

    'You could have made an effort and put on a clean jacket, instead of that ratty old overcoat,' said May. 'You look like a character from Toad of Toad Hall.'

    'This is Harris Tweed,' said Bryant, fingering a frayed hole in his soup-stained sleeve. 'It was handed down to me by my grandfather.'

    'Was that before or after he passed away?'

    'Funny you should say that. He died in it. Gave himself a heart attack trying to get the lid off a jar of gherkins. My grandmother thought it was a pity to waste good fabric.'

    A distorted tape loop of chanting monks began to play once more from hidden speakers, adding to the chamber's pervasive gloom.

    May sighed. 'Of all the things you've put our Unit through over the years, this has to be the strangest. Hosting a cocktail party in a house of horrors in order to catch a murderer. If you ever say a word about it in your memoirs, I'll kill you.'

    'I didn't hear any better ideas from you,' Bryant reminded him cheerfully. 'This is absolutely our last chance to break the case. At midnight we'll be forced to unlock the doors and we'll lose everything, unless we can flush him out in the next hour. Keep your eyes peeled for anything unusual.'

    May looked around at the kidnapped party guests, most of whom were glumly wedged between rotting corpses. 'Unusual,' he repeated, trying not to lose his temper.

    Bryant sucked the celery stick from his Bloody Mary thoughtfully. Somewhere above the stalactite-spiked arches of London Bridge station a train rumbled. The bricks trembled and soot sifted down. The shunting mingled with the thunder outside. Rain was pouring under the front door and pooling around the sodden shoes of the guests, all of whom were underdressed for the occasion. In the silences between rain, thunder and trains, May saw the group's breath condensing and imagined he could hear their teeth chattering. A waitress passed them, bearing a tray of bloody eyeballs on sticks. On closer inspection, these turned out to be dyed pickled onions.

    'Masks,' said Bryant, apropos of nothing.

    May turned to him. 'Explain?'

    'They're all wearing masks. Look at them all nodding and drinking.' He waved his sausage at the partygoers. 'You wouldn't think we had to bring them here under sufferance and lock them in. They were as jumpy as cats when they arrived, but they're attempting to pretend that everything's normal. Middle-class people with upper-middle incomes. They come alive at parties, no matter how strange the circumstances. They discuss house prices and holidays and restaurants, and give opinions on the plays they've seen. But after all that's happened in the last seven days, they know they've been brought here for another reason. What do you think is happening behind those forced smiles?'

    'I imagine they're morbidly...

About the Author-
  • Christopher Fowler is the acclaimed author of seventeen previous novels, including the award-winning Full Dark House and seven other Peculiar Crimes Unit mysteries: The Water Room, Seventy-Seven Clocks, Ten Second Staircase, White Corridor, The Victoria Vanishes, Bryant & May on the Loose, and Bryant & May off the Rails. He lives in London, where he is at work on his next Peculiar Crimes Unit novel.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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Christopher Fowler
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