Christopher Fowler

The Lonely Hour

"...if anyone can pull off the impossible, it’s the most consistently brilliant, entertaining and educational voice in contemporary British crime fiction..."


Four strangers outside a nightclub in the early hours of a rainy London night are pulled together by the expedience of a shared taxi ride. A couple of weeks later, one of their number will witness the shocking murder of another while attempting a bat-watching survey on Hampstead Heath. The black magic accoutrements arranged around the corpse provide a summons for the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Reading the signs Bryant and May are baffled by what appears to be a theatrical, rather than occult tableau – and before they can get a handle on what manner of murderer they are dealing with, two more of the cab's passengers are done away with in completely different ways. While the PCU battle to make a case for the connection – and save their ever-vulnerable outfit from threatened closure – survivor Sparrow Martin, who is nearer to solving the case than they are, is also getting uncomfortably close to the culprit…

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Christopher Fowler's octogenarian sleuths have been up against some perils in their time, but the labyrinthine contours of 'The Lonely Hour' mark their most difficult case yet – and at a time when both personally and professionally, the pair appears to be at their most vulnerable. All Bryant and May mysteries are in part meditations on the soul of London, with the two detectives taking opposing perspectives on the way society has changed since they were first gainfully employed by Winston Churchill's Wartime cabinet – John May always rising to the challenge of the future, Arthur Bryant preferring to take advice from arcane and obscure sources. With their guidance, readers always discover a fresh angle on the London that nobody knows. In this it is a brilliant study of the nocturnal worlds, where the homeless, the economic migrant, the party-going high-flier and all manner of Ladies of the Night coexist in parallel universes linked by a killer who strikes at 4am. 'The Lonely Hour' ends on the most shocking cliffhanger yet – but if anyone can pull off the impossible, it's the most consistently brilliant, entertaining and educational voice in contemporary British crime fiction, the utterly fabulous Christopher Fowler.

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