Review: Full Dark House

Full Dark House is the first book in Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May mystery series. Arthur Bryant and John May are a classic pair of odd couple opposites partnered together in the North London Peculiar Crimes Unit. The story starts, "It really was a hell of a blast." and we discover one of the team is dead. The other sets out to solve the murder and discovers it's linked to their first case together. Fowler wove an interesting mystery and it's what kept me going to the end of the story. Unfortunately, his characters didn't click for me, making it just an OK read.

Rated: 3 / 5

Full Dark House is primarily a historical mystery with police procedural and supernatural spice. It tells the story of police detectives Arthur Bryant and John May from the North London Peculiar Crimes Unit. Bryant has been lost in a bomb blast and his partner is investigating. As the story progresses we get two mystery stories for the price of one. There's a link between the bomb blast and Bryant and May's first case together in war torn London. As the present day murder investigation proceeds we gradually learn the details of their first case, the investigation of a series of bizarre, perhaps supernatural, murders in a theatre company during the 1940's blitz.

The 1940 murders follow a pattern which Bryant and May must figure out. Fowler does an excellent job of gradually revealing the details making Full Dark House a suspenseful read. I really liked this element of the mystery and it's what kept me engaged through the book.

The characters of Bryant and May are classic opposites. Bryant is intuitive, May procedural. Bryant has his head in the clouds while May is firmly grounded. Full Dark House explores the sparks of their first meeting and, through the lens of May's investigation, their relationship after years of partnering. Although I enjoyed aspects of the characters they didn't click for me. I found the plot more interesting than the people.

Even though I didn't enjoy the characters they were adequate, and Fowler tells a good story. I'll be giving other Christopher Fowler books a try. People who enjoy the characters would likely find Full Dark House a great read. For me, it was OK.

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