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This second book of the aptly named Peculiar Crimes Unit series featuring Arthur Bryant and John May involves odd death in London truly a character of the novel itself and esoteric knowledge about the city and its history than you might want to shake a stick at Since it happens to rain during most of the novel, shaking a stick wouldn t accomplish much.Aside from solving this mysterious death is it a murder Bryant and May must also find a way to justify keeping the unit that has been their lives for a half century open and functioning as part of the MET Water figures prominently throughout this story, as do the forgotten rivers of London, those lost to decades, if not centuries of development If you are looking for a straight forward police procedural, Fowler s Bryant May series is likely not completely your cup of tea If you like a big piece of the arcane tossed in with lots of history specific to the crime, then give it a try Each book is different, with it s own particular problem to unravel.Early in the novel there is a description of the type of team that occasionally is put together to solve the odd crimes this unit deals withI make that six men and two women, employed to tackle the cases that no one else in London wants to touch with a stick Not much of a team, I know, but we can draw on outside forces if necessary Longbright knew what that meant a motley collection of disbarred academics, crackpot historians, alternative therapists, necromancers, anarchists, spirit healers, nightclub doormen, psychics, clairvoyants and street mountebanks, many of whom consorted with known criminals, drafted in on a promise of cash in hand They were unreliable, expensive and occasionally indispensable. p 30 In this installment they contact a witch, various historians, tramps There is a wonderful description of the history of Brick Lane from the 16th century to the present through the various groups that have inhabited the area.And later a general, philosophical discussion of the rivers themselvesHonestly, we spend so much time attempting to improve ourselvesgoing to the gym, trying to develop meaningful relationships with one another, and yet we dismiss the other associations we need to support our fragile being What do you mean Everyone interacts with their location, Arthur Where we live helps set the level of our happiness and comfort The English have strongly developed psychological relationships with the landscape They travelled so little that accents changed from one street to the next.These days, our relationships with views, buildings, places, objects and strangers are virtually ignored As a child, you probably had a place that made you happy.As an adult, you search for an equivalent to that spot When the rivers were covered, we lost something of ourselves Dreams of lakes and rivers are dreams of calm No wonder lost rivers hold such mystique We need to believe that they are still beneath us somewhere, the distant conduits of a forgotten inner peacepp 238 239 By now, you may know whether this series is for you or not I plan to read I ve read 3 or 4 of the 11 in the series.P.S I also recommend Ben Aaronovitch series beginning with the book Midnight Riot, titled Rivers of London in England This is a paranormal police procedural with lots of humor, snarky dialogue, irreverence It is peculiar too but of a very different flavor. Well that was fun Not for the multiple victims, mind but being along for the ride as the crazy detective duo attempt to solve what appears to be 3 completely unrelated murders They aren t called the Peculiar Crimes Unit for nothing This ranks up there for peculiar, that s for sure Other than living on the same street seeing how the murders could be related at all was the real mystery It takes a person who likes to think outside the box to see fragments of ideas and actions that come together to become a plausible reason that 3 separate murders are linked.It was also an interesting and fascinating glimpse into the little known London underground water system In a place that deals with water deluges on a continual basis, it s the hidden systems that are a remarkable and necessary part of the urban environment that we don t even know exist And what a setting for a mystery I love the quirky characters it adds to the fun and makes you realize that there s always than one way to skin a cat Great series I m working my way through these Peculiar Crime Unit mysteries, and enjoying them immensely.The star character is Detective Arthur Bryant, an elderly eccentric who is unfailingly rude to everybody and regularly consults psychics, witches, and other unconventional types.Detective John May, Bryant s partner, is less unhinged, but still willing to go the extra weird mile.The rest of the PCU are a group of misfits, including a guy with a spatial perception problem, meaning he trips over everything.The mysteries themselves are very clever and very odd They are also very dark For all the comedy inherent in the setup, these books are not played for yuks.The Water Room has a lot of social observation, much of which pertains to the U.S the strange sense of alienation in an age of instant communication, in particular Bryant observes that the residents of Balaklava Road, where the murders are occurring, are comfortable in front of their screens than talking directly to their neighbors.I can t recommend this series enough. The premise grabs you an elderly woman who never leaves her house is found dead in her house, perfectly dry and dressed for a party with lungs full of river water How can it be With no clues to go on, it s the perfect opportunity for a couple of grizzly, crabby octogenarian detectives of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.The two predictably uncover deeply covered clues and meet odd people, like witches along the way in solving this impossible mystery.This novel was not exactly my cup of tea If you want a straight police procedural, this is not for you Although the murder mystery is itself interesting, so much of the novel seems to be spent dealing with other things all of them eventually lead up to the ending but the experience i had was trying to listen to someone sing in a hall where everyone else is screaming I wanted the plot to move along rather than get entangled in the crabbiness of the characters and the author s intent to endear them to us with their dry wit Every page seemed to be about three different things and I basically rushed through the distractions to find out what happened The writing itself is competent and littered with dry wit There are occasional beautiful passages When the rivers were covered, we lost something of ourselves Dreams of lakes and rivers are dreams of calm No wonder lost rivers hold such mystique We need to believe thatthey are still beneath us somewhere, the distant conduits of a forgotten inner peace.So, reader beware proceed only if you don t want something straight forward like a Mary Higgens Clark mystery. Arthur Bryant and John May met in London in November 1940 Both young men were assigned to the PCU the Peculiar Crimes Unit to deal with the strangest of crimes and, though they were young and had little experience, they found themselves pretty much running the place while so many resources and so many men were caught up in the war.Years later, when they were both quite elderly and much had changed they were still working together at the PCU They were very different men but they worked together well, with Bryant s blatant eccentricities and lateral thinking balanced by May s people skills, common sense and logical thought processes.I loved Full Dark House , the book where they made their first appearance, I have no idea why it has taken me so long to pick up this second book, but I loved this book even and I am eager to pick up the next book.But I told myself that I had to write about this book first.In that first book the PCU s offices destroyed by an explosion and this story begins not long after that, with the unit re staffed, under new management and settling into new premises Bryant and May have no officially designated cases, but they are quickly drawn into unofficial investigations.Benjamin Singh, an old friend of Bryant s, persuades him to come to the home of his sister, Ruth Singh He had found her dead in the basement of her Victorian home on Balaklava Street, dressed to go out, and sitting on a chair with her hands calmly folded He knew that something was wrong, and he was right, At first Bryant thought that the scene was simply odd, but it quickly became clear that natural causes could be ruled out Her mouth and throat were full of river water, even though the room, and her clothes and hair, were dry and showed show no signs of having been wet.Ruth rarely left her home and there were suggestions that she had suffered racist abuse, and so the investigation was focused on her neighbours Balaclava Street was a Victorian terrace set on top of one of the seven forgotten rivers that flow beneath London.Meanwhile, at the request of an old flame, May is looking into the activities of her husband, Gareth Greenwood, an academic whose special interest those forgotten rivers He finds that a particularly dangerous villain, Jackson Ubeda, appears to have hired Greenwood to exploit his expertise, for purposes as yet unknown.Model Kallie Owen and her boyfriend, Paul Garrow, had been evicted not entirely legally from their rented flat and they were looking for a new home When she went to see her old school friend, Heather Allen of Balaclava Street, she learned that Benjamin Singh hoped to sell his sister s house quickly, and she put in an offer It seemed like a stroke of luck, but as Kallie set about creating her dream home she was troubled by the constant sound of rushing water, swollen doors and windows, and damp patches that appear and disappear on the walls And then Paul left her to find himself he said and she had to deal with everything alone.There would be strange deaths on Balaklava Street, and all of the residents of that street would be pulled into the storm as the rain fell on and on and water levels grew higher and higher The Water Room works brilliantly as a crime story, with those different storylines coming together beautifully The plotting is very clever, I suspected a great many characters at different points in the story, but the ending came as and it works at so many levels.The story considers the eternal and inevitably struggle between the four ancient elements, fire, air, earth, and water Water brings the first death but other elements will bring the deaths that follow Maybe Shakespeare s story of The Tempest played out on Balaclava Street.It considers the significance of home, through the diverse community in Baklava Street, and as Arthur Bryant leaves his long suffering landlady behind and moves to a new flat.You could think about those things as you read, but there is such a lovely wealth of detail in the story and there is such richness in the characters and their relationships that you could easily let those things sail by as you simply enjoy the story.There were so many different aspects, the story could have flown off in so many different directions They might have been interesting, but I was glad that it stayed on track.Arthur Bryant, his long term partnership with May and their long association with DS Janice Longbright, bring such humanity to the story Their interactions, rooted in a back story about which a little is known but much has to be revealed, are wonderful and make it clear that though they often aggravate each other they will always be comrades and they will always be professionalYou could also think about London There is a wealth of knowledge about London and its rivers underpinning this story in some hands I would find that dry but here I was fascinated, because Christopher Fowler s love of everything he was writing about was clear on every page.He made an extraordinary story believable and so very engaging.I was sorry to come to the end, but I am looking forward to the next book and to the books that come after that. The Peculiar Crimes Unit of London s Metropolitan Police handles some very peculiar crimes indeed For example, in The Water Room, we have the case of an elderly woman who drowns in river water in her basement, but there is no water in the room and no evidence that the body had been moved How did the woman s dead body, dressed to go out shopping and seated on a chair in her basement, end up with filthy river water in her throat That s just the kind of question for which Arthur Bryant and John May thrive on finding answers.Bryant and May are the two cranky, quirky detectives who have been partners for fifty years and who are the very heart and soul of the Peculiar Crimes Unit It seems only fair since they are very peculiar detectives.In this instance, Bryant intuits that Ruth Singh, the dead woman in the basement, did not die a natural death, and so he and May and other members of their unit set out to prove that a murder has occurred, even though there is no apparent motive, no forensics, and no clues They interview neighbors, investigate the history of the neighborhood, and search for the thread that will lead them to the solution to what they are convinced is a crime.In the midst of their investigation, another death occurs in the neighborhood A workman is buried in mud and suffocates, in what seems like an obvious accident, but once again Bryant and May are convinced that there is here than meets the eye and that the cave in of mud that was the instrument of death actually was caused by human intervention But how to ever prove it But then a third death occurs on the street and this time there is no question that it is murder The victim dies in his bed with clingfilm wrapped several times around his head Three suffocations, each by different methods Surely they are somehow related All the while, the rain keeps pouring down and the street where the deaths occurred is threatened with inundation as London s secret underground and forgotten rivers fill up and overflow.Bryant, who is the instinctual member of the team, consults with witches and psychics, and equally unconventional sources to come up with a theory of what has happened His investigative method is eccentric, but even though he is rude to everyone with whom he interacts, he does accumulate information and does begin to understand what might have happened.May, on the other hand, follows a somewhat conventional path but still wanders into weird territory as he seeks a solution to the crimes London, itself, seems a character in this story There is abundant information about the topography and history of the city and particularly about the underground rivers that play such a central part in the mystery of the deaths and in their solution Bryant and May follow the winding course of the subterranean tributaries that lead them eventually to the answers they seek Answers that will allow the Peculiar Crimes Unit, always one major mistake away from being dissolved, to exist for another day This was an enjoyable read Christopher Fowler seems really fond of his two ancient detectives and writes of them with empathy and humor He also writes lovingly of London, its culture, and its people I found myself invested in the characters and wanting to see them succeed In that, Fowler did not disappoint. The Water Room by Christopher Fowler is the second book in his Peculiar Crimes Unit series It stars John May and Arthur Bryant, the octogenarian leaders of a unit of detectives who handle all the cases that the regular detective forces won t touch or can t solve This one begins with a simple question How can an elderly woman drown, fully dressed to go out, in her otherwise dry basement Their search will lead them through a maze of shady real estate men, racist threats, shy academic types with something underhand on the side, lectures on the city s undergound river system, and some lessons in Egyptian mythology There s a killer on the loose who leaves no clues and who is ruthless in a hunt for a valuable art treasure Bryant and May are out to locate the treasure and capture the criminal before anyone else has to die The use of water in the title of this one is very fortuitousin a way Because this story is, quite frankly in my opinion , duller than ditch water There are long explanatory, historical bits about the underground rivers There are repeated episodes with one of the characters hearing rushing water in her house, fighting off spiders, and thinking that someone is entering her house when she s not there There s a long time between the first murder that no one except Bryant and May considers a murder for quite a while and the next There s a lot of talk and not a whole lot of action The mystery could be a quite interesting one.if the story would just move along.I read the first of this series quite a while ago pre blogging days and all I can tell you about it is that I enjoyed it enough to snatch up a couple of the books when I got a chance But I honestly don t think I ll be reading any This one just didn t do it for me One star.This was first posted on my blog My Reader s Block Please request permission before reposting Thanks. &Read Pdf ☔ The Water Room ↠ They Are Detection S Oddest Couple Two Cranky Detectives Whose Professional Partnership Dates Back Half A Century Now Arthur Bryant And John May Return In A Case Of Multiple Murder That Twists Through A Subterranean Course Of The Secrets, Lies, And Extreme Passions That Drive Even Ordinary Men And Women To The Most Shocking CrimesThey Are Living Legends With A Reputation For Solving Even The Trickiest Cases Using Unorthodox, Unconventional, And Often Completely Unauthorized Methods But The Peculiar Crimes Unit Headed By Detectives John May And Arthur Bryant Is One Mistake Away From Being Shut Down For Good And When The Elderly Sister Of Bryant S Friend Is Found Dead In The Basement Of Her Decrepit House In Kentish Town, They Find Themselves On The Verge Of Making Exactly That MistakeAccording To The Coroner, Ruth Singh S Heart Simply Stopped Beating But Why Was A Woman Who Rarely Left The House Fully Dressed For An Outing And Why Was There River Water In Her Throat Convinced That The Old Lady Didn T Die A Natural Death, The Detectives Delve Into A Murky Case With No Apparent Motive, No Forensics, And No Clues And They Ve Barely Launched Their Investigation When Death Claims Another Victim Suddenly They Discover Some Very Unnatural Behavior Surrounding Ruth Singh S Death By Natural Causes From Shady Real Estate Developers And Racist Threats To Two Troubled Marriages, From A Dodgy Academician Working London S Notorious Grey Economy To A Network Of Antiquities Collectors Obsessed With Egyptian Mythology And Running Beneath It All Are The Sweeping Tentacles Of London S Vast And Forgotten Underground River System As The Rains Pour Down And The Water Rises, Bryant And May Must Rely On Instinct, Experience, And Their Own Very Peculiar Methods To Stem A Tide Of Evil That Threatens To Drown Them All From The Hardcover Edition I wasn t overly impressed with the first book in the series, but I like Fowler well enough to give it another try Again though, the aging detectives failed to wow me Nothing technically is wrong with the book, it s got a good mystery, the writing is solid, the characters are pretty well developedit just lacks that certain something Again with this one, partly is it the narrator s fault, Tom Goodman s reading is just kind of off, his impressions are off, his accents are strange, his british accent is really odd and generally I love british accents the way fat kids love cake Fowler s erudite knowledge of London and of mythology both subjects of a particular interest to me are the best parts of the book He has used them in the first book and once here to entertain as much as throw in false clues Fowler s sense of humor is another draw here The audio book kept my attention for the most part, but it just wasn t tremendously dynamic or exciting or in any way awesome to elevate itself above average It passed the time. I have fallen in love with two elderly detectives from the British Peculiar Crimes Unit as created by Christopher Fowler The Water Room is not only charmingly written, it has one of the best mysteries I ve read in a long time, actually unusual and interesting in itself, aside from the book s humor and delightful characters The book manages to be Victorian, early twentieth century and modern at the same time It is a good novel as well as a mystery which is not something I can always say, even about mysteries I enjoy It would make a wonderful television mini series and I hope it s done soon.I can t wait to hunt down and read the rest of the series.