London always plays a central part in Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May detective stories and this new collection of Christmas short stories is no different. These books show London at its quirky best but there are times when I wonder just how much is real and how much is made up. Turns out one of Christopher Fowler’s friends asked him that very thing. When I was reading what happened next (in the introduction) I knew I wanted to know more and was over the moon when Christopher Fowler elaborated on what exactly happened in the pub he took his friend too….
So, the criticism levelled at me by a reader was that my books were ‘too quirky to be realistic’. I took him to my local pub, the King Charles I in King’s Cross. It sometimes hosted the Nude Alpine Climbing Challenge, which involved traversing the saloon dressed only in a coil of rope and crampons, never touching the floor. I saw the photos and they aren’t pretty!
The pub was always either packed or closed, according to some mysterious timetable that the landlord Ben kept in his head. On that particular night everyone in the place had a ukulele. It was heaving, and what appeared to be a stuffed moose head or possible the top half of a deformed donkey was lying on the bar billiards table. The owner was attempting to attach it on the wall in place of a barometer, ‘from where,’ he said, ‘it can gaze across to the gazelle opposite with a loving look in its eyes’. The pub has the world’s oddest jukebox with a selection of music that seems to have been chosen by sticking a pin into some kind of popular music catalogue of the 20th century.
While we were supping our beers, a man reached past my companion for a giant, well-thumbed volume. ‘Let me pass you the telephone directory’, my friend offered. ‘No mate,’ the drinker replied, ‘this is the pub dictionary. It gets a lot more use in here than a phone book.’ The crowd started playing the theme from ‘Star Wars’ on their ukuleles, led by Uke Skywalker. And then Iain Banks wandered in. Banks and my mate got into an argument about quantum physics, and I realised then how much of a geek Ian was. The pub is a mix of bohos, no-hopers, art students, barflys and grumbling old gits. There is a real fire and the tiniest men’s loo I’ve ever seen. There are altogether too many stags’ heads, and a stained-glass window of someone who may or may not be one of the Everly Brothers. Sometimes Joanne Harris comes in for a drink. It’s a tiny pub, yet they have bands playing – most recently a kind of feminist bluegrass hillbilly folk outfit. You can usually go in there and have a good row with a total stranger – and you’re allowed to order takeaways from the neighbourhood.
After realising all of this, my friend concluded that perhaps I had not exaggerated the books’ quirkiness after all…
Now imagine that, stories and situations exactly like that in London’s Glory and you have an idea of how much fun this book was. Short stories have never really appealed to me but when the short stories are connected like this which characters I love in every single one of them, I find it very hard to put the book down.
I also happened to be reading the book on a beautiful Autumn day and had as much fun taking photos with different backdrops as I did reading it. After all London in Autumn is pretty spectacular.
I can’t recommend London’s Glory enough. Actually I can’t recommend all the Bryant & May books enough. Read them if you like clever crime stories and read them if you don’t. They are brilliant.
Christopher Fowler wrote the above piece for me as part of the blog tour for London’s Glory. I am not the only person taking part – have a look below at some of the other amazing people on this particularly brilliant train and make sure you check them out.
I was given this book for free as part of the blog tour. My review is definitely my own and neither it nor my opinions haven’t been swayed by the free book swag.