The Burning Man, by Christopher Fowler, is a highly entertaining crime thriller set in contemporary London. It is the latest in the Bryant and May series but can easily be enjoyed without having read any previous installments. I was unfamiliar with this duo and their sidekicks but am glad to have discovered them through this book.
It is Halloween and London is in the grip of riots sparked by the latest bank failure due to insider dealing. As a mob descends on the financial square mile a Molotov cocktail is thrown into a doorway where a homeless man is sleeping. He does not survive.
What looked like a macabre accident soon proves to be the start of something more sinister as further fire related deaths occur in subsequent days. The elderly Arthur Bryant and his partner John May of the Peculiar Crimes Unit are drawn to investigate despite the misgivings of their bosses at the City of London Police.
The story is told with humour but still provides a challenging whodunnit. There are twists and turns aplenty as suspects are investigated and links between characters are uncovered. Alongside the crime puzzle the reader is treated to fascinating detail on the history of the city. There is thought provoking social commentary that segues with the plot.
It was pleasing to find a crime thriller that manages to avoid many of the cliches of the genre. The writing has lightness but also depth and I did not manage to guess the denouement. A finely woven tale that offers up serious issues for consideration without demanding that it be taken too seriously. This was a cracking good read.
My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Doubleday.