The year is 1969 and ten guests are about to enjoy a country house weekend at Tavistock Hall. But one amongst them is harbouring thoughts of murder. . .
The guests also include the young detectives Arthur Bryant and John May – undercover, in disguise and tasked with protecting Monty Hatton-Jones, a whistle-blower turning Queen’s evidence in a massive bribery trial. Luckily, they’ve got a decent chap on the inside who can help them – the one-armed Brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf.
The scene is set for what could be the perfect country house murder mystery, except that this particular get-together is nothing like a Golden Age classic. For the good times are, it seems, coming to an end. The house’s owner – a penniless, dope-smoking aristocrat – is intent on selling the estate (complete with its own hippy encampment) to a secretive millionaire but the weekend has only just started when the millionaire goes missing and murder is on the cards. But army manoeuvres have closed the only access road and without a forensic examiner, Bryant and May can’t solve the case. It’s when a falling gargoyle fells another guest that the two incognito detectives decide to place their future reputations on the line. And in the process discover that in Swinging Britain nothing is quite what it seems…
So gentle reader, you are cordially invited to a weekend in the country. Expect murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion!
Our story begins at the end of an investigation, as the members of London's Peculiar Crimes Unit race to catch a killer near London Bridge Station in the rain, not realising that they’re about to cause a bizarre accident just yards away from the crime scene. And it will have repercussions for them all…
One year later, in an exclusive London crescent, a woman walks her dog – but she’s being watched. When she’s found dead, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to investigate. Why? Because the method of death is odd, the gardens are locked, the killer had no way in - or out - and the dog has disappeared.
So a typical case for Bryant & May. But the hows and whys of the murder are not the only mysteries surrounding the dead woman - there's a missing husband and a lost nanny to puzzle over too. And it seems very like that the killer is preparing to strike again.
As Arthur Bryant delves in to the history of London’s ‘wild chambers’ - its extraordinary parks and gardens, John May and the rest of the team seem to have caused a national scandal. If no-one is safe then all of London’s open spaces must be closed…
With the PCU placed under house arrest, only Arthur Bryant remains at liberty – but can a hallucinating old codger catch the criminal and save the unit before it’s too late?
The river Thames is London’s most important yet neglected artery. When a young woman is found chained to a post in the tide, no-one can understand how she came to be drowned there. At the Peculiar Crimes Unit, Arthur Bryant and John May find themselves dealing with an impossible crime committed in a very public place.
Soon they discover that the river is giving up other victims, but as the investigation extends from the coast of Libya to the nightclubs of North London, it proves as murkily sinister as the Thames itself. That’s only part of the problem; Bryant’s rapidly deteriorating condition prevents him from handling the case, and he is confined to home. To make matters worse, May makes a fatal error of judgement that knocks him out of action and places everyone at risk.
With the PCU staff baffled as much by their own detectives as the case, the only people who can help now are the battery of eccentrics Bryant keeps listed in his diary, but will their arcane knowledge save the day or make matters even worse? Soon there’s a clear suspect in everyone’s sights – the only thing that’s missing is any scrap of evidence.
As the detectives’ disastrous investigation comes unstuck, the whole team gets involved in some serious messing about on the river. In an adventure that’s as twisting as the river upon which it’s set, will there be anything left of the Peculiar Crimes Unit when it’s over?
RED GLOVES 1: DEVILRY - THE LONDON HORRORS
The first collection contains stories set in London, where deceptively ordinary events like an evening in a pub or a night on the town have terrifying consequences. Here you'll find hauntings, revenges, murders, monstrosities, redemptions, and the dark hands of the urban night reaching out to seize the unwary. And to top it off, there's a short story featuring disreputable detectives Bryant & May.
RED GLOVES 2: INFERNAL - THE WORLD HORRORS
The second collections comprises stories set in exotic locations around the world. Once more, deceptively ordinary events and occasions - a holiday in the Far East or a trip to the French Riviera, for example - cause terrifying fates to unfold. Here, innocent travellers find themselves confronting accidents, tragedies, murders, nightmares and epiphanies as they wander far from home. And again, there's a short story featuring those misfits from the Peculiar Crimes Unit, detectives Bryant & May.
A hotel offers a taboo service for its troubled clients.
A young man must wind a thousand clocks before sunset.
A vampire library attacks its readers.
A shy young man loses a dog and discovers the cutlery of the Marquis de Sade.
A lottery winner soon wishes he hadn't won.
Deranged office workers take over a building
A teacher loses one of her pupils somewhere in the London Underground.
A catwalk model reveals the grisly secret of looking good.
Slacker friends are forced into action over an accidental murder.
A bomb's aftershock is felt fifty years later.
Sex toys become instruments of fate.
The suburbs are besieged, star scandals are revealed, epic tragedy turns to triumph and a cry for help flares briefly in the night...
Black comedy, high farce, dark revelations...they all go to make up Christopher Fowler's mind-blowing collection of immoral tales.
A geologist trapped int a town without water is lured into a desperate escape plan.
A boy plans a murder in an eerie funfair.
A cop witnesses an inexplicable plague of madness.
A teenager learns a deadly trick with his mobile phone.
A woman unlocks a childhood secret with the aid of old comic books.
A secret museum opens only at night...
OLD DEVIL MOON is Christopher Fowler's tenth collection of uniquely disturbing short stories, and contains the blackest humour and the darkest fears, set in worlds we walk through each day but rarely see.
Strange things don't only happen when you are asleep. They happen in daylight, in crowded cities, even in the countryside. Things that seem innocent one minute are demonized the next, and here are seventeen stories to prove it.
A journalist spends a nerve-wracking weekend in the company of Hitler and his Nazi supremos. A tropical holiday takes a nasty turn thanks to a troupe of monkeys; and a waitress challenges a sinister customer in an all-night diner. A tailor plots to escape his execution; London is overrun with rats; serial killers fall in love; and revenge backfires on the unfaithful. As our lives and deaths grow ever stranger, housewives, students and executives all find themselves in situations that become increasingly disturbing. Fowler's powerful narratives are subtly affecting and make you think twice about the way you look at the world around you.
Beyond City Limits...
there are no eyeless, crawling things in this town, no vampire slumbers unseen behind the rusting rails of the city necropolis.
Here are only car parks, and nightclubs, and taxi cabs. The pavements are bright and thronging, people laugh and telephones ring.
But there is another world within the city, where reality may suddenly skip a heartbeat, where for a moment there is no recognition of the face in the mirror.
For in the very ordinariness of the city there lurks its biggest terror...
Take a trip to the cutting edge of terror and discover:
- Why an obsession with sixties British comedy stars can make you a murderer ...
- The mother who dreads the sound of hymns - with good reason.
- How schooldays can be the weirdest days of your life.
- A couple who regularly visit the supermarket from Hell...
- And why people who collect table-mats are dangerous - only when they're dead...
A popular businessman awakes one morning to discover that everyone hates him. A young woman must surrender her virginity to a grotesque enemy in order to fulfil her family's destiny. An extraordinary chain of events is set in motion when a cocktail cabinet falls out of the sky and kills a farmer. A depressed man decides to make his suicide the most exciting thing that's ever happened to him...
Oozing paranoia, black humour and a certain amount of old-fashioned gore, this is a collection of classic Christopher Fowler short stories - each telling a chilling tale of desperate individuals who learn the hard way that ...flesh wounds.
A collection of twelve darkly disturbing, twisted stories from the author of Roofworld, Spanky and the acclaimed Bryant and May novels. But don't expect to read about vampires, werewolves, or ghouls or ghosts, or dolls coming to life or brain-eating zombies. And as for lake-dwelling demons, malevolent spirits, misogynistic slashers or children locked in attics, you can forget them...
Instead, here you have twelve stories of desperate people in seemingly ordinary situations - workers in offices, friends in pubs, husbands and wives in apartments and houses. All of them the most unlikely - and therefore the most likely - to find themselves trapped within their own personal, private, unimaginable, nerve-fracturing, bizarre and yes, deadly visions of Hell...
In every detective’s life there are cases that can’t be discussed, and throughout the Bryant & May novels there have been mentions of some of these such as the Deptford Demon or the Little Italy Whelk Smuggling Scandal.
Now Arthur Bryant has decided to open the files on eleven of these previously unseen investigations that required the collective genius and unique modus operandi of Arthur Bryant and John May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit - investigations that range from different times (London during the Great Smog) and a variety of places: a circus freak show, on board a London Tour Bus and even a yacht off the coast of Turkey.
And in addition to these eleven classic cases, readers are also given a privileged look inside the Peculiar Crimes Unit (literally, with a cut away drawing of their offices), a guide to the characters of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and access to the contents of Arthur Bryant’s highly individual library.
'Something had been released into the night streets. It moved unnoticed and sucked the life from people. It caused slow painful death, but even those who could sense its presence were too scared to admit it was there.
And now, with quiet deliberation, it was heading for the street where I lived.'
Red Hellion lives opposite the creepy, tightly locked Torrington Park, or 'Viper's Green'. Walking home from school one day he meets Max, who is trying to break in. Before he knows it, Red finds himself sucked into Max's plans to discover the whereabouts of his father, who disappeared weeks before under sinister circumstances connected with the park. But neither Max nor Red realize just how much their lives are at risk. Their investigations into the park are linked to the terrible the legend of Medusa, and are about to lead them into horrific danger...
Kay Goodwin is a sixteen-year-old boy with a smart mouth and too much imagination. Marooned in the rundown seaside resort of Cole Bay, his life is a horrible comedy of errors that has trapped him in the country's most dismal place at the worst possible time - the early seventies. He dreams of escaping the crumbling pier and the grumbling pensioners, of finding where he is appreciated, but it's the one thing he can't do. Until he discovers a faraway land with characters who are impossibly exotic, but strangely familiar. In the kingdom of Calabash he can have everything he's ever wanted from life. There's only one small problem. Calabash doesn't actually exist.
In an England that's still hungover from the sixties, Kay finds it all too easy to retreat from reality. Everyone in Cole Bay expects him to conform, but Kay is prepared to risk everything to find out what makes him different, what his life really holds, and what will happen if he believes in the impossible...
Christopher Fowler's warm-hearted, dryly comic novel takes place at the most painful point of growing up, when childhood dreams are abandoned for hard truths, and everyone gets one last chance to be free.
Across London people are dying in apparently unconnected freak accidents. Further investigation reveals that secreted on some of the bodies are strips of paper carrying angular, indecipherable hieroglyphics: their meaning unknown.
To his horror, advertising executive Harry Buckingham is linked with several of the victims. He is soon avoiding the police and following his own investigation. He discovers a multinational company combining sophisticated technology with ancient mythology. They call it confrontational marketing. Harry calls it pure evil.
It seems that the Devil may be at large in the nation's capital . . . and only a handful of people can stop the most hostile takeover bid of all time.
John Chapel is a statistician's dream: he's twenty-nine, has a loving wife and son, a comfortable home, and a promising career. Then he meets the stunningly beautiful, mysterious Ixora, and his life starts to change disturbingly.
He first sees her running across the rainswept steps of Waterloo Station. When they meet again, Ixora denies having been there. Odder still, John discovers her in a film containing exactly the same sequence. So begins a dreamlike relationship that escalates into a nightmare.
Despite his good intentions, John finds himself embarking on a passionate affair. But violence and death track the ill-fated couple as John risks his home, his career and his life to save Ixora from a horrific destiny. Now the subject of a police investigation, he finds himself trapped in a vortex of spreading evil which may claim his very soul...
First published in the early 90s, Red Bride confirmed Fowler's place at the vanguard of modern horror fiction.
After this city hits midnight, everyone becomes equal. That's when anything can happen.
It's 2 am and Vincent Reynolds is running for his life through the stormswept London streets. He's discovered a secret and wants to tell the world - if he can stay alive until dawn.
His adversary - an English gentleman obsessed with puzzles, playing his deadliest game. His allies - a motley crew of insomniacs, misfits and street people. His only hope - to discover the solutions to ten lethal challenges that will lead him, from dusk till daybreak, through the nightlife of a secret city hidden even to its inhabitants.
The cruel and heartless hand of the urban planner forced fourteen-year-old Billy March and his family to leave their home in the city and settle in the suburban new town of Invicta Cross. Initial prospects for a fresh start soon dashed, Billy watched as his family was destroyed by petty-minded and hostile neighbours. Though he managed to befriend a young girl as damaged as himself, he experienced pain that changed his life forever.
Ten years later, as Invicta Cross is voted Britain's Favourite New Town, a smart young married couple move into the area. Glamorous and wealthy, they're instantly popular with the neighbours. Then the vicious pranks begin... As one neighbour after another goes missing, no one suspects that the perfect couple in Balmoral Close might know something more than they're telling. Then a suspicious reporter sets out to discover the truth.
Psychoville is a suburban nightmare that delves behind the net curtains to reveal the truth about housewives, bloodstains and the damage you can inflict with a Morphy Richards iron.
Prolific author Christopher Fowler is best known for his Bryant and May series featuring the Peculiar Crimes Unit.
Christopher Fowler is the author of more than forty novels (fifteen of which feature the detectives Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit) and short story collections. The recipient of many awards, including the coveted CWA ‘Dagger in the Library’, Chris has also written screenplays, video games, graphic novels, audio plays and two critically acclaimed memoirs, Paperboy and Film Freak. His most recent book is The Book of Forgotten Authors, drawn from his ‘Invisible Ink’ columns in the Independent on Sunday. Chris divides his time between London's King’s Cross and Barcelona. You can find out more by visiting his website and following him on Twitter.