Another excellent entry in the Bryant & May series, On the Loose finds the Peculiar Crimes Unit disbanded and our protagonists looking for a new purpose, or possibly just having to accept retirement. But the finding of a decapitated body in a freezer in a derelict shop in King’s Cross leads to the unit being unofficially reconstituted and as more headless bodies are found it becomes clear that something very strange is happening in this part of London. And the authorities want it all kept quiet, hence turnign reluctantly to the PCU.
This is great stuff; I’ve always been a fan of this series and one of the great pleasures of the books is the way Christopher Fowler feeds in the history and mythology of London. Now, I’ve lived here for over twenty years and don’t profess to know huge amount about the city but one of the things I do know is that it is an ancient and fascinating place and there is still an air of mystery about certain parts of the city, and it is tapping into this which gives the Bryant & May books such depth.
You wouldn’t think that an area as seemingly prosaic as King’s Cross, with its major stations and regeneration programme would fit the bill, but digging up a place can reveal some interesting elements of the past, and the idea that change can lead some people to get in touch with history and use it to their own ends is really plausible. So the idea that the personification of an ancient myth (in the shape of a half man half beast with antlers constructed from knives) can be terrorising the workers on a construction site isn’t really that far-fetched, especially when you consider that many of those workers come from eastern Europe where some of these traditions are still very evident in everyday life.
So not much more to say about the plot (don’t want to give anything away) but the villain of the piece is a very interesting character and the ending sets up a sequel very nicely. And I read this just in time for the next one (Bryant and May Off the Rails) which comes out towards the end of the month.
So, one of the best of the series and very, very enjoyable indeed.