Full Dark House is the first book in Christopher Fowler’s crime mystery series featuring the octogenarian detectives Arthur Bryant and John May who work for the Peculiar Crimes Unit in London.
The fact that the detectives are in their eighties, are named after a box of matches and are assigned peculiar crimes to solve tells you a lot about the rich vein of dark humour that pervades the book.
Full Dark House is mainly set during the London Blitz in 1940 when the two detectives are young men working on their first case, but the story opens sixty years later when a bomb blast rips apart the Peculiar Crimes Unit, killing Arthur Bryant. John May sets out to solve his elderly partner’s death, a mystery that takes him back to their first ever case solving a series of murders at the Palace Theatre in London 1940 where a risqué production of Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld was in rehearsals.
Full Dark House is a richly complex story that mixes a host of colourful characters, some bizarre deaths, themes of Greek mythology and revenge, life in the Blitz and the relationship between the maverick Arthur Bryant and his more down to earth sidekick, John May.
Christopher Fowler is also fascinated by London itself and the city is as important as any of the characters. The author’s love for his home city would seem to be summed up by Arthur Bryant when he says:
“This city is a veritable repository of the wonderful and the extraordinary. Isn’t that right, Mr May?”
You can find out more about the Bryant and May series of books here.