Bookshelf: Seventy-Seven Clocks

Seventy-Seven Clocks

Christopher Fowler

Published 2008

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.

Review 

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

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astronomy and navigation: used by Greek astronomers from about 200BC and by Arab astronomers from the Middle Ages until superseded by the sextent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


About RicoChey

I'm just an unmarried, childless, thirty-something high school dropout with big ideas and a small attention span. Weave drunkenly behind me as I meander through my own life: a winding path of musings on life, relationships, food, the few politics I can stomach discussing, and probably really dumb stuff like the ratio of Sex and the City episodes wherein Carrie does and does not appear to be wearing extensions.
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