One night, Arthur Bryant witnesses a drunken lady coming out of a pub. The next morning, she is found dead at the exact spot where their paths crossed. Even more disturbingly, the pub has vanished and the street has changed. Bryant is convinced that he saw them as they looked over a century before - is elderly detective losing his mind? Then it becomes clear that a number of women have met their ends in London pubs and the likeliest suspect seems to be a mental patient. But knowing who the killer is and catching him are two very different propositions. As their new team at the Peculiar Crimes Unit goes in search of a madman, the octogenarian detectives ready themselves for the pub crawl of a lifetime, and come face to face with their own mortality...More
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Not my idea of peculiar
I liked the premise. A detective duo fighting crime for decades, usually successful but having to live with their occasional mistakes.
But I thought the PCU - the Peculiar Crimes Unit - would be dealing with much more interesting cases. Fowler has form as a fantasy writer - I thought the books would be about apparently supernatural crimes that turn out to be mundane. Or at the very least they'd be "impossible" crimes - you know, locked room murders and so on. Indeed the vanishing Victoria of the title clearly counts as an "impossible" element of the crime, but it's little more than a detail. It's as if a murder took place *next door* to a locked room.
The actual mystery is about a serial killer murdering women. Not my scene. Certainly not interesting enough to warrant the length.
I haven't, I'm not familiar with any of Fowler's other work. But the peculiar thing is (do you see what I did there?) the whole "they're going to close us down" storyline made me groan inwardly, thinking, "Not this again!" Presumably it was Fowler's intention to convey a sense of the Home Office constantly trying to close them down so that even new readers would get caught up in the tedium of it, but it didn't make it any more entertaining.
I got to the end. I think I would have given up quite early if I'd just read it. I've given him 5 stars because he differentiates the character voices well.
I'm not a filmgoer any more. We've got a decent TV and Bose sound system so we'd rather wait till films come out on Blu Ray - then we don't need to worry about idiots nattering behind us, and we can pause for breaks.
If the book were to be filmed, I'd probably get around to seeing it. Eventually.
There were some good bits that made me laugh. From memory:
"Bob Dylan performed there. So did Oasis."
"Is that some sort of pop group?"
"It's more a Beatles tribute band."
- Dr Caterpillar