Review

White Corridor: A Bryant & May Mystery

by Christopher Fowler

I am
probably too old to be using the term "sense of wonder," but I will
when discussing Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May
mysteries. Arthur Bryant and John May are well past retirement age,
yet somehow they continue working as senior detectives for London's
Peculiar Crimes Unit. The eccentric Bryant and enigmatic May are
perfectly and at once matched and mismatched, and the crimes that
their creator invents for them and their similarly strange
co-workers to solve are such clever variations on a theme that one
is usually enthralled within just a few pages of the beginning of
the book.

WHITE CORRIDOR, the fifth installment in the Bryant &
May
series, differs somewhat from its predecessors in that the
mysteries confronting the two protagonists are not linked to one of
their cases from the past but rather are firmly grounded in the
present. The circumstances surrounding the offices of the Peculiar
Crimes Unit are chaotic, to say the least, what with the imminent
retirement of Unit Pathologist Oswald Finch, an unexpected tour
from visiting royalty (which is crafted to shut down the PCU
forever) and the closing of headquarters for one week while its
wiring is brought up to 21st-century standards. Bryant schedules a
weekend frolic of his own --- all too typically a convention of
psychics --- dragging an extremely reluctant May along with
him.

Naturally, everything that can go wrong does. A member of the PCU
is found murdered in a locked room on-site, and at least one fellow
member had motive and opportunity to commit the crime. Meanwhile,
Bryant and May find themselves stuck in their van in the middle of
a snowstorm in the Dartmouth countryside, even as a shadowy
murderer prowls the landscape around them, wreaking terror on other
trapped motorists. Bryant and May accordingly are challenged with
double duty, attempting to solve one crime while tackling the other
via cell phone, even as the PCU faces their gravest threat yet to
being disbanded.

Both plot- and character-driven, WHITE CORRIDOR demonstrates that
Fowler has no intention of letting this imaginatively conceived and
craftily written series succumb to formulaic familiarity. One never
knows from page to page what Bryant will do or say. And May? Even
as he plays foible to Bryant, it appears from hints dropped in the
book that May has enough secrets to keep the series going for
years. If you haven't jumped on the Bryant & May train yet, now
is the time to familiarize yourself with a series that is on its
way to becoming an institution.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011

White Corridor: A Bryant & May Mystery
by Christopher Fowler

  • Publication Date: May 29, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • ISBN-10: 0553804502
  • ISBN-13: 9780739484531