Published by DoubleDay on March 26th 2015
London is under siege. A banking scandal has filled the city with violent protests, and as the anger in the streets detonates, a young homeless man burns to death after being caught in the crossfire between rioters and the police.
But all is not as it seems; an opportunistic killer is using the chaos to exact revenge, but his intended victims are so mysteriously chosen that the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to find a way of stopping him.
Using their network of eccentric contacts, elderly detectives Arthur Bryant and John May hunt down a murderer who adopts incendiary methods of execution. But they soon find their investigation taking an apocalyptic turn as the case comes to involve the history of mob rule, corruption, rebellion, punishment and the legend of Guy Fawkes.
At the same time, several members of the PCU team reach dramatic turning points in their lives - but the most personal tragedy is yet to come, for as the race to bring down a cunning killer reaches its climax, Arthur Bryant faces his own devastating day of reckoning.
‘I always said we’d go out with a hell of a bang,’ warns Bryant.
Happy Easter everyone!
I’m happy today to take part in the blog tour for Christopher Fowler’s latest novel in his brilliant Bryant & May series: THE BURNING MAN. Scroll down for an interview with the author and my thoughts! Enjoy!
Welcome to What Danielle Did Next, I’m so happy you’re on the blog today!
– First off, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
I’m the author of over 40 novels and short story collections, including the Bryant & May mysteries, recording the adventures of two Golden Age detectives in modern-day London. My latest books are the haunted house thriller ‘Nyctophobia’ and ‘The Burning Man’. Other work includes screenplays, videogames, graphic novels and audio plays. I have a weekly column in The Independent On Sunday. I live in King’s Cross, London and Barcelona.
– Your latest book, The Burning Man is the 12th in the Bryant and May series, can new readers jump in and join the boys on the latest adventure or should they read chronologically?
I deliberately designed them to be read out of sequence, except for a two-parter, Vols 7 & 8. I always include a section at the front explaining who everyone is, so you can really jump right in anywhere. It drives me mad that readers tend to start with No.1, because it’s the odd book out in many ways.
– You’ve written in several genres. Do you have a preference? Is it something you relish or can it be daunting switching genres?
I consider myself a classic jobbing author who turns his hand to everything from satire, drama, comedy or non-fiction. Even when I write in a genre it’s not quite ‘in’. The Bryant & May books are mysteries but also comedies and books about London.
– What inspires you when starting a new book? What comes first, character or plot or both?
I come up with the character and a situation to throw him/her in, then see how they’ll react and what complications ensue from that. I have a habit of jumping over and between genres, and it confuses readers. I used to think like a traditional genre writer, coming up with what I felt was a killer plot and a good theme.
– Can you tell us a little something about your writing process? Any quirks or superstitions?
Most of my books tip out at exactly fifty chapters. I think this has become a superstition of mine now.There are always four drafts. The first is about just getting to the end, the second is the fun one where I write in all the detail, the third is refinement, the fourth is weeding out the horrible/ boring bits.
– Authors are first and foremost readers! What are some of your favourite books and which author would you love to sit down with for a natter?
I love very English language-play. I corresponded with my hero JG Ballard and wish I’d met him in person. I do get to meet a lot of writers I like – one of the perks of the job – I wish I could talk to Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury, HH Munroe, EM Forster, Virginia Woolf, Joyce Carol Oates, Alan Sillitoe, Keith Waterhouse, Tennessee Williams, Daphne Du Murier, HG Wells, Evelyn Waugh, PG Wodehouse, Joe Orton and many others.
– You’re a keen blogger, what are your thoughts on the ever increasing role of social media in the success of an author and their books?
I love the connection, but it’s amazing how few other athors do. I listen to feedback from my readers and take their ideas on board – why wouldn’t you? No writer belongs in a tower, working alone. The only downside is that original writers are traditionally outsiders, and when you’re watching your peers online constantly you lose your outsider status – you stop thinking oddly.
– As a self-confessed movie buff, can you share some of your all-time favourite films?
A list would be 10 miles long. Most of the films I love, nobody’s ever heard of!
The Hidden Face
Passport To Pimlico
Ken Russell’s The Boy Friend
Bringing Up Baby
Some Like It Hot
– When you’re not writing, what do you like to get up to?
I travel a lot, whenever I can really, and draw.
– I can’t let you go without asking for some advice for the aspiring authors out there.
I’m asked this a lot and generally I say write for yourself because it gives you great pleasure, and make sure you finish what you write completely before you show it to anyone. Then if you don’t get it sold, you’ll still have the satisfaction of achievement.
– What have you learned, yourself, about your writing since penning your first book?
To start with character, not plot. Nobody cares about the plot if they don’t like the characters. It’s amazing how many people tell me they’ve got a great idea for a story, then tell me about a plot, not the person in it.
– Are you working on anything at the moment and can you share a little about it?
I’ve a new thriller coming up in September called ‘The Sand Men’, set in Dubai, about a state-of-the-art resort and a conspiracy…
Thanks so much for taking part!
I was a little hesitant to pick up THE BURNING MAN as it was my introduction to the series which is now twelve books long but luckily Christopher Fowler immediately put me at ease with his carefully crafted story that ensured I was never once lost or felt like I was on the back foot.
Bryant and May are detectives in London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit, which is full to the brim with a range of eccentric characters with all kinds of quirks that give the book its light moments amid the darkness of the plot. It’s the height of the financial crisis and London is literally under fire. Riots and anarchic violence has broken out and the police are struggling to keep it under control. When a young homeless man is brutally burned to death in a doorway, it appears to be a casualty of the violence however it soon emerges to be part of bigger plot. As more bodies pile up, the PCU have their work cut out for them as the mystery unfolds to a thrilling conclusion.
It had been a while since I read a solid police mystery novel and Bryant and May, with their particular way of doing things and irreverent manner was such a fun way to ease back into it. From start to finish, I was enthralled by how the plot unfolded amidst the development of the characters’ relationships with each other. The book moves along at an easy pace, allowing the reader time to focus on the mystery and the characters whilst enjoying the smattering of historical facts and anecdotes about London included in the story.
An intriguing plot, wonderfully unconventional characters and a melding of the past and the present combines to create a fabulously well rounded novel that will be enjoyed by new and old readers alike.