Friday, November 7, 2008

Review: The Victoria Vanishes: A Peculiar Units Crime Mystery by Christopher Fowler

The following is a summary of The Victoria Vanishes by Christopher Fowler from Random House:

It’s a case tailor-made for the Peculiar Crimes Unit. A lonely hearts killer is targeting middle-aged women at some of England’s most well-known pubs—including one torn down eighty years ago. What’s more, Arthur Bryant happened to see one of the victims only moments before her death at the pub that doesn’t exist. Indeed, this case is littered with clues that defy everything the veteran detectives know about the habits of serial killers, the methodology of crime, and the odds of making an arrest. Now, with the public on the verge of panic and their superiors determined to shut the PCU down for good, Detectives Bryant and May must rise to the occasion in defense of two great English traditions—the pub and the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

That’s easier said than done. A lost funeral urn, the eighteenth-century mystic Emanuel Swedenborg, the Knights Templars, the secret history of pubs, and the discovery of an astounding religious relic may be enough to convince one of the pair to take back his resignation letter. But with Bryant consulting a memory specialist and May encountering a brush with mortality, do the Peculiar Crimes Unit’s two living legends have enough life left to stop a murderous conspiracy…and a deadly cupid targeting one of their own.

My Review:

I do not usually read mysteries, but I figured it was time to change my habits a little bit by expanding my reading genre. I received an Advanced Reading Copy of this novel and started reading it right away. I used to read mysteries when I was younger but kind of shyed away from them when I wasn't finding them intellectually challenging. Obviously, I have learned that the substance of the novel depends upon the author that you choose to read, and Christopher Fowler did not let me down.

This book is part of the Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery series and I did not read any of the previous books in this series. I do not think that I missed anything by not reading any of the previous installments.

Bryant and May are the lead detectives of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, which is an odd division of the London police department. The government has actually been trying to abolish the unit for years. Will the government finally accomplish it's task of shutting down this unit when one of the detectives decides that he should retire?

The women of London are being preyed upon in the local pubs and it is up to the Peculiar Crimes Unit to find the perpetrator. This was the mystery part of the novel, which unfolded quite nicely, and not in an obvious way.

Another enjoyable aspect of the book is how he included historical data regarding the London pubs. The governmental conspiracy, historical pubs, the peculiar crimes, bits of comedy here and there, and some of the personal information about the main characters really enhanced this book and gave it a good solid base. I truly enjoyed this mystery and look forward to reading more of these novels in the future!

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