Saturday, July 4, 2009

Book Review: Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

Ten Second Staircase (Bryant & May Mysteries) Ten Second Staircase by Christopher Fowler

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is my first Bryant & May mystery, but it won't be my last. So funny.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) is assigned case of a woman who was dunked into a vat of formaldehyde filled with floating fetuses. This was her provocative art piece, and provoke it did. The PCU is in danger of being closed down, but if they can solve this case, they can stave off closure. Their only witness, a young boy who was at the museum on a school trip, describes the killer as a 19th century highwayman on a horse. Which makes no sense.

But the highwayman keeps striking minor celebrities throughout a section of London . This patch of London has history that goes back to the Knights Templar, and was where they brought back a jar of Chirst's blood from the holy land.

There is nothing to do but enlist the powers of logic, white witches, cat burglers, police sergeants with a fetish for dressing like 1950s pinups, hackers, and every other loony they can find to stop the highwayman before he can kill again.

I did find some of the social commentary overly pessimistic, but it worked well with the plot.

Bryant & May are both well beyond the normal age for retirement, and are dedicated eccentrics. Bryant is haunted by his past over-reliance on mystics and mumbo jumbo. And toothbrushes. May is haunted by the loss of his daughter, used as bait to capture a vampire (as described by the press). Both have to get beyond their pasts and solve the case before it's too late.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, I notice you are discussing mysteries associated with the Church I thought I would mention a book I just read.

    We have been led to believe by our ancestors that when Jesus was resurrected he went up to a throne in heaven. However I just read a fascinating book by the New Testament scholar Stephan Huller that in earliest Christianity that the original gospel writer (St. Mark) might have had a physical throne ON THIS EARTH in mind - one which originally sat in Alexandria and which he rediscovered in Venice - see the photos of the object in the Basilica di San Marco which Italian sailors stole from the Church of St. Mark in Alexandria along with the body of St. Mark in 828 AD - see photos of the throne here -

    The point of Huller's book is that St. Mark was the first Pope and that Jesus ruled 'on his right hand' as he sat on this throne (it is a universally acknowledged - albeit ignored - fact that the title 'Papa' or Pope was originally associated with St. Mark rather than St. Peter and with Alexandria rather than Rome; the bishop of Rome only acquired the title after the fifth century).

    I was really fascinated by this book. It wasn't anything like what I had been taught in Sunday school. It really made me think and learn about the language that Jesus and the original gospel writer (St. Mark) spoke.

    For instance in Hebrew or Aramaic (the language of Jesus) there would be no way to distinguish the concepts of 'divine throne' or 'heavenly throne' - i.e. it would be easy for white Europeans to get misled or confused (like the Gospels of Matthew and Luke speaking about 'the kingdom of heaven' and 'God' even though the Aramaic would be one and the same).

    It is an amazing book and here is some background information on the author

    Just thought I would pass this along