Christopher Fowler “The Invisible Code” (Bantam, 2013)
I was not sure what to expect with this novel. It’s my introduction to the Peculiar Crimes Unit, although apparently the 10th in the series. In fact, I would say that I spent the first part of the novel trying to decide if this was a stealth urban fantasy novel. It opens with children hunting witches. They are playing – or are they? One of the aging detectives visits his doctor – does he somehow transfer his afflictions to the doctor? While it didn’t scream urban fantasy, there did seem to be enough hints that something fantastical could happen at any moment.
What actually happens is that Bryant and May are asked to investigate an odd, but not supernatural situation. Has a woman gone mad? Or is she the victim of a diabolical tormentor? The solution to the investigation involves looking into both the history of the woman and the history of London itself.
The Invisible Code is a very entertaining, very British procedural. Bryant and May are both antiquated and odd. The complete package is a unique and amusing variation on the police procedural. While The Invisible Code may be my first Peculiar Crimes novel, I doubt that it will be the last.