Bryant and May On the Loose Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Long regarded as an anachronism, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is to be disbanded. For octogenarian detectives Arthur Bryant and John May, it seems retirement is now the only option. But then a headless body is found in a freezer, and a suspicious, gigantic figure has been spotted - dressed in deerskin and sporting antlers made of knives. It looks like the PCU are back in business...
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 3 minutes|
|Audible.com Release Date||July 18, 2011|
|Publisher||W. F. Howes Ltd|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #214,186 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#14,095 in Suspense (Audible Books & Originals)
#53,238 in Suspense Thrillers
#68,859 in Literature & Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
Top reviews from the United States
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This installment starts with the PCU finally brought an end, killed by a legion of enemies in higher quarters. (Too many high officials have been embarrassed by the Unit’s shenanigans.) The list of allegations against the PCU’s two senor partners includes destruction of government property, contamination and misuse of evidence in criminal investigations, illegal hiring practices, blackmailing a senior Home Office official, releasing hazardous materials inside a Ministry of Defence establishment, and interfering with a member of the royal family. Yes, they did all of these things. When the Unit gets going, chaos always follows.
With the PCU disbanded, Bryant sits in his rented quarters, visibly declining under the eyes of a loving but bemused housekeeper(flatmate?). May, much more robust, shows up to pull him out of his depression. Then there’s a bizarre, and to the government, profoundly embarrassing murder. A dead man with no head on his shoulders is found in a refrigerator unit near a major civic development project that must not go wrong because it would make certain very senior officials look foolish. (Which they are.) No one else knows how to deal with the murder so the PCU is given a stay of execution. It no longer has an office suite. Or computers. Or crime equipment. But it’s given one week to clear up the mess. Now that’s true gratitude.
Soon more murders follow. There are reports of the appearance in the area of a man dressed from head to foot in furs and crowned with a rack of stag horns crafted from razor sharp kitchen knives. Other odd things happen. As usual, Bryant gets sidetracked into exploring the pre-Christian, pagan background of the places where the crimes have taken place. (There’s a touch of Peter Ackroyd here.) The action is non-stop and there are a satisfying number of horrific murders in it, and along the way, the prose pops and sizzles with little zingers like this one, a description of an obviously underwhelming vicar they come across: he “was young and untested, of ineffectual appearance and extremely pale, as if he had been washed clean too many times.” That last qualifier! I love it!
They catch the killer in the end but there’s a twist that sets up the next book in this thoroughly delightful hard to put down series.
As is often the case, the most delicious parts of the book are those that deal with London's history--and this story goes back tot he days of prehistory when the city was forested and populated by some pretty wild flora and fauna. The plot line swings back and forth between the real (the battle to gentrify older parts of London) to the surreal (witches, legends, etc.) Great mix that will engage all readers.
I thought that "On the Loose" was one of the best books in this very, very engaging series.
so well written you will want to go back for more. My fear is that I am reading them faster than Fowler is writing them.
Top reviews from other countries
But such a gloomy situation would not really permit the unfolding of a traditional Bryant & May story, and as we are in the middle of a continuing series – it does not give much away to say that this does not spell the end of the PCU. They are temporarily re-established to solve a murder when a headless body is found in a disused freezer at the back of a small shop unit in London’s Kings Cross. And there are also reports of a man attacking local workers and visitors in the same area with antlers formed by kitchen knives lashed together who Bryant thinks is some form of Herne the Hunter/Green Man, the game is truly afoot once more.
The story is written in Fowler’s customary entertaining style, with lots of intriguing local London lore and mythic history thrown in, which Bryant, not surprisingly, believes is at the root of the murder. We also have the engaging leading figures back – May’s sense and balance, and Bryant’s whacky eccentricity – which always seems to work, even when facing huge odds. It is an odd, fantastic tale, but you do not read Fowler for a plodding, conventional plot.
All the familiar successful elements of this series that pays homage to the classic form of crime novels are here. Present but in muted form. We get humorous interplay between the detectives Arthur Bryant and John May - but not too much. We get once again a threat to their police unit - the Peculiar Crimes Unit - which now seems as regular a feature of these books as Arthur Bryant meeting a witch. We get that too again in this book, though only as a tangential detail. His escapades investigating crime via consulting spiritualists, lovers of esoteric knowledge and reference books continue once more as the pair investigate corpses around Kings Cross, appearing to be murdered - and without their heads.
Back again too are obscures corners of London's local history, fleshing out the plot. This time, however, they are not that central to it (unlike, say, The Water Room (Bryant & May 2)). And so on through the other regular features of the series: all present, all not quite so sharp or vital as in previous volumes.
The poignant twist near the end rewards most long-term readers of the series. If you have followed the characters through several previous volumes, the way one of Bryant's regular crime-solving quirks produces a tragic turn of events has a strong emotional kick. For those newer to the series, I suspect it will come over rather more as the near-inevitable twist you expect as a crime novel nears its ends; less moving as it fills a rather expected plot purpose.
As a result, if you are new to the Bryant & May series, I'd be tempted to start at an earlier volume even though they do not need to be read in order.
Once again, the audio version is narrated by Tim Goodman, a tremendous bonus especially the way he voices the different characters so the large cast is never confusing.
Poor old Bryant is becoming more and more disreputable and it seems that John May is heading in the completely opposite direction becoming more and more dapper as the series proceeds. Yet again the books are an education in the hidden stories behind the nation's capital and I am impressed by the way that, though the two ancient detectives do, understandably, harp back to the past the stories themselves are rooted well and truly in the present day.
This was quite a complicated plot and very well designed I thought. The characters were as always fascinating and believable. A lovely little romantic interest for Janice Longbright - and oh such a sad, sad ending. I shed a tear I have to say.
Yes, thoroughly enjoyed this. Have already started the next one. The only problem I have is that I am up to number 8 and there are only 10. Oh dear I do hope the next Rebus comes out on time!!!
Having plodded my way through the book, only to discover that I'm supposed to buy another book about the same murderer, I note that much angst is expressed by one of the primary protagonists about his own stupidity.
I entirely agree that he truly has behaved in a remarkably stupid way, resulting in the death of one of his own team, and the escape of a mass murderer; quite why the author thinks this is an inducement to buy another book is a mystery. I shan't be doing so.