21 December 2012

It's not nice to fool an old man

A month ago I picked up Christopher Fowler's Ten Second Staricase at the Northfield Library. It's subtitled "A Bryant & May Mystery." Reading it was a confusing and slow project.

I suppose I shouldn't have begun with the fourth "Bryant & May Mystery." There were lots of ways that I was adrift from the first page. I should have guessed since the two characters of the subtitle were the heads of London's Peculiar Crimes Unit.

My other problem was that I kept trying to read it in the late afternoons and evenings. The times of day, the confusion, and the writing kept abetting my fatigue. I seemed unable to read for more than a quarter hour without falling asleep. No wonder it took me a month to finish the book.

Throw in a lot of London mythology, a bit of vampire lore, and some cultural history about the "Highwayman," and I was getting less entertained. And that, after all, is a main reason for reading a book like this.

The investigative process used by these agents of the Peculiar Crimes Unit are anything but normal. But that didn't help me since much of it was based on following clues based on arcane London history. The plot is ridiculous. The cops are too weird to admire. The other characters are enigmas and even less interesting than the detectives.

Merry Christmas from Bryant & May
I finished because I hoped the ending would make sense out of some of the rest. It didn't really help.

Have you read any Christopher Fowler or Ten Second Staircase? What did you think?  

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Dan Conrad wrote: "I don't know if it was Ten Second Staircase, but I once began a Fowler book thinking stories related to something called "The Peculiar Crimes Unit" -- and in London -- would just have be interesting.

"Wrong. I think I got about a quarter of the way through and gave it up."

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