Full Dark House

Full Dark House

Book - 2004 | Bantam hardcover edition
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Random House, Inc.
Edgy, suspenseful, and darkly comic, here is the first novel in a riveting new mystery series starring two cranky but brilliant old detectives whose lifelong friendship was forged solving crimes for the London Police Department's Peculiar Crimes Unit. In Full Dark House, Christopher Fowler tells the story of both their first and last case—and how along the way the unlikely pair of crime fighters changed the face of detection.

A present-day bombing rips through London and claims the life of eighty-year-old detective Arthur Bryant. For his partner John May, it means the end of a partnership that lasted over half-a-century and an eerie echo back to the Blitz of World War II when they first met. Desperately searching for clues to the killer's identity, May finds his old friend's notes of their very first case and becomes convinced that the past has returned...with a killing vengeance.

It begins when a dancer in a risque new production of Orpheus in Hell is found without her feet. Suddenly, the young detectives are plunged in a bizarre gothic mystery that will push them to their limits—and beyond. For in a city shaken by war, a faceless killer is stalking London's theaters, creating his own kind of sinister drama. And it will take Arthur Bryant's unorthodox techniques and John May's dogged police work to catch a criminal whose ability to escape detection seems almost supernatural--a murderer who even decades later seems to have claimed the life of one of them...and is ready to claim the other.

Filled with startling twists, unforgettable characters, and a mystery that will keep you guessing, Full Dark House is a witty, heartbreaking, and all-too-human thriller about the hunt for an inhuman killer.

Baker & Taylor
When a bomb claims the life of John May's detective partner of more than half a century, May becomes convinced that the key to the killer's identity lies in his first case together with his partner.

Blackwell North Amer
A present-day bombing rips through London and claims the life of eighty-year-old detective Arthur Bryant. For John May, it means the end of a partnership that lasted over half-a-century and an eerie echo back to the Blitz of World War II, when they first met. Desperately searching for clues to the killer's identity, May finds his old friend's notes of their very first case and becomes convinced that the past has returned...with a killing vengeance.
It was an investigation that plunged the fledgling detectives into a complex and lethal puzzle. It began when a dancer in a risque new production of Orpheus in Hell was found without her feet. In a city shaken by war, a faceless killer was stalking London's theaters, creating his own kind of sinister drama. And it will take Arthur Bryant's most unorthodox techniques and John May's dogged police work to catch a criminal whose ability to escape detection seems almost supernatural - a murderer who even decades later seems to have claimed the life of one of them...and is ready to claim the other.

Baker
& Taylor

When a bomb claims the life of John May's detective partner of more than half a century, May becomes convinced that the key to the killer's identity lies in their first case together, which involved a steamy theater production in Blitz London.

Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 2004
Edition: Bantam hardcover edition
ISBN: 9780553803877
0553803875
Branch Call Number: MYS Fowler, C 100.1 2004
Characteristics: 356 pages ; 22 cm
Audience: Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.3 19.0 83731

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h
hadlock
Nov 04, 2019

I came across information on one of the later books in the series and decided to start at the beginning. The unlikely pair of investigators are Arthur Bryant and John May. They meet in London during the Blitz and work in the Peculiar Crimes Unit, which is on the edge of being shut down by their superior. A strength and equally a weakness, is Bryant, socially awkward, brilliant, and very odd with a classical British education. We learn about the 23-year old Bryant as his new partner, May, does. The story is on two levels: their first grisly case together in a crazy old Victorian theater and over 50 years later when their office is blown up with Arthur in it. It takes a little to get used to jumping back and forth, but you just want to know who is decimating the cast of “Orpheus in Hell.”

Watch for a Greek tycoon with horrible metal leg braces literally riveted to his bones, Rothschild, the stuffed Abyssinian cat, the titillation of the cancan at the end of the production (the dancers wearing gasp! shorter knickers like the racy French), a landlady pressed into service as a police officer, a wild motorcycle chase, and Nijinsky, the tortoise. Over it all are the German bombing runs that occur most every night if it isn’t cloudy.

Now that the relationships are established, I’m looking forward to many other mysteries.

m
midori_hon
Jan 03, 2018

what it was like in London during the blitz, a detailed description of the inner workings of a theatre, some quirky characters, bits of humour,...and some grisly murders.

w
WhidbeyIslander
Aug 05, 2017

A long book, but one that keeps your interest. It jumps back and forth between modern day London and London in 1940 during the blitz. Most of the story is set in 1940, and that was certainly more interesting. As well as the mystery surrounding weird murders in a huge theater, the evocation of London being bombed was very effective.

m
maipenrai
Dec 06, 2016

(The first book in the Bryant and May series)

1
1_Great_Book
Sep 08, 2015

I am familiar with Bryant and May already, and I agree this was a tougher read with the time span jumps. You had to pay attention to subtle clues to time shifts, such as "The young Arthur...." instead of blatant notices to dates. Delightful to discover how they met and worked their first case together, forged their relationships with Longbright and Maggie Armitage, and how odd that one of the characters came back out of their past. I loved the structure of the theatre building for a peculiar crime scene (loads of dark nooks and crannies), and thought the mythology of the particular play was well enough explained if you aren't familiar with the stories.

j
JackieFC13
Jan 15, 2014

This was alright! I was hoping it would be good from all the reviews but it was extremely confusing. There were so many characters, I couldn't keep up. Also going back and forth between the past and the future was too confusing. And the main character died in the first 2 pages of the book which really put me off. It was really creative once you get to the end but the book was just confusing. I might read the second but I'll need time first to get my head around it.

a
athena14
Dec 25, 2013

May be too much for readers who lack knowledge of Greek mythology.

2
22950009541673
May 20, 2011

Incoherent.

g
gwinegarden
Aug 08, 2010

So different. Very enjoyable.

k
kalio
Aug 03, 2010

Today, Arthur Bryant and John May are the oldest detectives in the London police department. When they first met in 1940, they were among the youngest. Thrown together when the Peculiar Crimes Unit?formed to solve unusual crimes that might otherwise strike a blow to London?s fragile morale?was created during World War II, Bryant and May are uniquely suited to their rather odd job. Bryant is an unkempt, unconventional believer in the supernatural; May, handsome and sensible, can be relied upon to be open-minded. Call them the Mulder and Scully of crime fiction, and you won?t be too far off the mark. Bryant and May?s is a partnership built to last?until one night, in modern London of the twenty-first century, a bomb in the department?s headquarters puts an end to Bryant?s long career. May, nearly eighty years old now but still sharp as a tack, is determined to solve his partner?s murder. He retraces Bryant?s last steps and is surprised to find that they lead back to the duo?s very first case together, a gruesome series of murders that plagued the dark passages of the Palace Theatre in 1940 while German bombs destroyed the city of London outside. In chapters that shift back and forth between May?s present-day investigation and the air raids of the Blitz, Full Dark House is a riveting mystery chock-full of forensics, suspects, history, and character. Author Christopher Fowler blesses Bryant and May with enough peccadilloes to be interesting, but the detectives are not mere caricatures; these are men with personality enough to fill a series of mysteries?and indeed, Full Dark House is one of seven whodunits to date featuring Bryant and May and their sixty-odd years of suspenseful crime solving.

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