The Water Room by Christopher Fowler

Water Room 1

my copy

The Water Room by Christopher Fowler, 2004 mystery, 2nd book in the Peculiar Crimes Unit series featuring Bryant & May

I really like this series. The London setting is interesting, and the history fascinating, and the characters really shine.

Bryant and May is a series of crime fiction/mystery novels by English novelist Christopher Fowler. The series follows Arthur Bryant and John May, two detectives who are part of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, a fictional unit in London. The series is set between World War II and present times and often includes flashbacks to earlier times when an incident from the detectives’ past is relevant. Fowler frequently includes London landmarks like St. Paul’s Cathedral into the series. The series is also known as the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

Fowler began his Bryant and May Mysteries series in 2003 with Full Dark House. The series is currently ongoing. See the list below.

I bought the first book in the series, Full Dark House (2003), years ago and read it soon after, then let the next few sit on the shelf. Finally, during a clean-and-organize of my book area I got around to reading this one. Why did I wait so long?

Water Room 2From the publisher’s website:

How can an elderly recluse drown in a chair in her otherwise dry basement? That’s what John May and Arthur Bryant of London’s Peculiar Crimes Unit set out to discover in a city rife with shady real estate developers, racist threats, dodgy academicians, and someone dangerously obsessed with Egyptian mythology. Linking them all is an evil lurking in London’s vast and forgotten underground river system—a killer with the eerie ability to strike anywhere, anytime, without leaving a clue. It’s a subterranean case of secrets, lies, and multiple murder that defies not only the law, but reason itself. Can Bryant and May bring a killer to the surface and stop the dark tide of murder before it pulls them under, too?

Fowler’s books are unlike anything else I’ve read in the mystery genre, and well worth the reading time. The amount of historical information stirred into the books, which are (mostly, usually) part of the investigation and solution are a lot of what I enjoy, as well as the humor sprinkled in. But most importantly, it’s Bryant and May solving the crime in their very own way. Wonderful stuff.

The author says on his blog: Water Room 3
“For each reader who discovers something they like inside the covers, there’s someone who can’t be persuaded to touch them; their preconceptions run too deep.

That’s fine. You can’t please everyone and some of the volumes in the series are pretty esoteric and densely plotted. I wanted to attempt every imaginable type of crime story except the most common one; the grim ultra-violent procedural. Both ‘Oranges & Lemons’ and the upcoming ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ are more like 1970s adventures than 1930s whodunnits.”

The Christopher Fowler’s Bryant and May books in publication order (which is the same as their chronological order):

Full Dark House  (2003)
The Water Room (2004)
Seventy-Seven Clocks  (2005)
Ten Second Staircase  (2006)
White Corridor  (2007)
The Victoria Vanishes  (2008)
Bryant & May on the Loose  (2009)
Off the Rails  (2010)
The Memory of Blood  (2011)
The Invisible Code  (2012)
The Bleeding Heart  (2014)
The Secret Santa  (2015)
The Burning Man  (2015)
London’s Glory (ss) (2015)
Strange Tide  (2016)
Wild Chamber  (2017)
Hall of Mirrors  (2018)
England’s Finest  (2019)
The Lonely Hour ( 2019)
Oranges and Lemons (2020)
London Bridge is Falling Down (coming Dec. 2021)

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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9 Responses to The Water Room by Christopher Fowler

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I can see I’m going to have to go back and start catching up on this series. Historical stuff is just up my alley anyway, not to mention London. Nice job whetting the appetite without telling too much.

  2. 1412064gk says:

    I have THE WATER ROOM near the top of my READ REAL SOON stack. I reviewed FULL DARK HOUSE a couple weeks ago on my blog. It was quite a performance. As you point out, there’s a lot of London and history in this series.

  3. Patti Abbott says:

    Put it on reserve at my library. Thanks. Sounds like something different.

  4. tracybham says:

    I have read the first 6 books in this series, through THE VICTORIA VANISHES. I have the next three on my TBR shelves. Hopefully this will motivate me to pick them up soon. I agree with what the author says, that some of the books are “densely plotted.” Sometimes I get confused, but they are always entertaining to read.


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