Mystery, 496 pages
In 1970s London, the oddest crimes are left in the capable but quirky hands of detectives Bryant and May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit. What begins as a simple incident of vandalism quickly evolves (devolves?) into an intricate web of violent, unusual crimes. At the center of it all is the prestigious (and obnoxious) Whitstable family, whose pathological ignorance to peril puts Bryant and May to the test for patience and professionalism. As Whitstables perish, seemingly without rhyme or reason, Bryant and May race the clocks to unravel the mystery.
Well written, well paced, well planned. So what was the problem? Maybe I’m not a Mystery person. I enjoyed the banter between Bryant and May, I enjoyed the supporting characters’ odd contributions to the plot, especially when they seemed insignificant, because I knew in my gut that every little thing would matter. I enjoyed the vision of ’70s England, and the multiple points of view Fowler used, without breaking Third Person Omniscient perspective. What I didn’t enjoy was following details, trying to care about the historical significance of guilds and upper class families. In the end, I didn’t really get the big twist. Maybe I’m not clever enough. Overall, it was interesting, and I always wanted to know what was going to happen next, but I don’t know if I’ll be picking up the other books in the Peculiar Crimes series just yet. Maybe I need to get a better mind for mysteries.
Limited to words I either did not know yet, or that I never really think about when I encounter them. Definitions found on Dictionary.com.
astrolabe an astronomical instrument for taking the altitude of the sun or stars and for the solution of other problems in astronomy and navigation: used by Greek astronomers from about 200BC and by Arab astronomers from the Middle Ages until superseded by the sextent
orrery an apparatus for representing the positions, motions, and phases of the planets, satellites, etc., in the solar system; any of certain similar machines, as a planetarium
mellifluous sweetly or smoothly flowing; sweet-sounding; flowing with honey; sweetened with or as if with honey
tontine an annuity scheme in which subscribers share a common fund with the benefit of survivorship, the survivors’ shares being increased as the subscribers die, until the whole goes to the last survior; an annuity shared
ignominious marked by or attended with ignominy; discreditable; humiliating; bearing or deserving ignominy; contemptible
ignominy disgrace; dishonor; public contempt; shameful or dishonorable quality or conduct or an instance of this
dace a small, freshwater cyprinoid fish, of Europe, having a stout, fusiform body
perch (British) a linear or square rod; a measure of volume for stone, about 24 cubic feet
lorry (Chiefly British) a motor truck, especially a large one; any of various conveyances running on rails, as for transporting material in a mine or factory; a long, low, horse-drawn wagon without sides