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The Water Room
Christopher Fowler
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The Water Room (Bryant and May #2)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,046 Ratings  ·  321 Reviews
Unabridged 14hours 17minutes

When an elderly lady is found inside her own house with her lungs full of river water, London's Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to search for a logical solution. But the property's next tenant is plagued by mysterious damp patches and the sound of rushing water, and Arthur Bryant decides to divert the investigation into strange new territory.
Published (first published 2004)
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Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This second book of the aptly named Peculiar Crimes Unit series featuring Arthur Bryant and John May involves more odd death in London (truly a character of the novel itself) and more esoteric knowledge about the city and its history than you might want to shake a stick at. Since it happens to rain during most of the novel, shaking a stick wouldn't accomplish much.

Aside from solving this mysterious death---is it a murder?---Bryant and May must also find a way to justify keeping the unit that has
Feb 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm working my way through these Peculiar Crime Unit mysteries, and enjoying them immensely.

The star character is Detective Arthur Bryant, an elderly eccentric who is unfailingly rude to everybody and regularly consults psychics, witches, and other unconventional types.

Detective John May, Bryant's partner, is less unhinged, but still willing to go the extra weird mile.

The rest of the PCU are a group of misfits, including a guy with a spatial perception problem, meaning he trips over everything.

G.H. Eckel
The premise grabs you: an elderly woman who never leaves her house is found dead in her house, perfectly dry and dressed for a party with lungs full of river water. How can it be? With no clues to go on, it's the perfect opportunity for a couple of grizzly, crabby octogenarian detectives of the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

The two predictably uncover deeply covered clues and meet odd people, like witches along the way in solving this impossible mystery.

This novel was not exactly my cup of tea. If you wa
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Peculiar Crimes Unit of London's Metropolitan Police handles some very peculiar crimes indeed. For example, in The Water Room, we have the case of an elderly woman who drowns in river water in her basement, but there is no water in the room and no evidence that the body had been moved. How did the woman's dead body, dressed to go out shopping and seated on a chair in her basement, end up with filthy river water in her throat? That's just the kind of question for which Arthur Bryant and John ...more
Aug 11, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't overly impressed with the first book in the series, but I like Fowler well enough to give it another try. Again though, the aging detectives failed to wow me. Nothing technically is wrong with the book, it's got a good mystery, the writing is solid, the characters are pretty well just lacks that certain something. Again with this one, partly is it the narrator's fault, Tom Goodman's reading is just kind of off, his impressions are off, his accents are strange, his british ...more
It took me quite a long while to finish this book and to finally get involved in the inquiry, not because of the book, the plot, the characters or the setting, but because of the dreadful stuff, which was taking place in Paris, while I was trying to read. So again, but by no fault of the author, I found it difficult to follow the plot, along the depths and meanders of the Thames and the London sewer system.
Once I managed to get involved, I had to finish. It feels like this is going to be an int
The Water Room by Christopher Fowler is the second book in his Peculiar Crimes Unit series. It stars John May and Arthur Bryant, the octogenarian leaders of a unit of detectives who handle all the cases that the regular detective forces won't touch or can't solve. This one begins with a simple question: How can an elderly woman drown, fully dressed to go out, in her otherwise dry basement? Their search will lead them through a maze of shady real estate men, racist threats, shy academic types wit ...more
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Arthur Bryant and John May met in London in November 1940. Both young men were assigned to the PCU – the Peculiar Crimes Unit – to deal with the strangest of crimes and, though they were young and had little experience, they found themselves pretty much running the place while so many resources and so many men were caught up in the war.

Years later, when they were both quite elderly and much had changed they were still working together at the PCU. They were very different men but they worked toge
Sep 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
And so, with great expectations, I return to the world of Arthur Bryant and John May, the aging detectives from London Metropolitan Police’s Peculiar Crimes Unit.

With the events of Full Dark House , I found the series a very pleasant surprise. The Water Room develops them further. Whereas the first book introduced them in their most recent reincarnation (they did appear in some of Christopher’s other writing previously) and Full Dark House was mainly about their first case back in 1940’s Londo
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars. Solid addition to this series about a pair of 80-something detectives in London's Peculiar Crimes Unit. Again, not necessarily a fast-paced read, but very engaging.
Nancy Oakes
Installment #2 in this series featuring the Peculiar Crimes Unit finds our heroes, Bryant and May (and the other people in the PCU) trying to solve the death of a woman drowned in her basement. Sounds straightforward, right? However, the dead woman was completely dry, sitting in a chair, in a dry basement. If that was the only problem for them to deal with, the book would have definitely been a lot shorter -- but add in a death by saran wrap, arson, and a fellow buried alive by his own truck. An ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Fowlers excellent Bryant & May series continues with “The Water Room”. I first discovered this series after winning one in a contest and fell in love with these two octogenarian gentlemen immediately. Arthur Bryant and John May are London’s two longest serving detectives and lead the Met’s Peculiar Crimes Unit. Delightfully eccentric and filled with quirks and idiosyncrasies, they lead us on an intriguing path filled with wit, charm and originality. Fowlers novels manage to pleas ...more
Sue Smith
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well that was fun! Not for the multiple victims, mind - but being along for the ride as the crazy detective duo attempt to solve what appears to be 3 completely unrelated murders. They aren't called the Peculiar Crimes Unit for nothing! This ranks up there for peculiar, that's for sure. Other than living on the same street seeing how the murders could be related at all was the real mystery. It takes a person who likes to think outside the box to see fragments of ideas and actions that come toget ...more
I have fallen in love with two elderly detectives from the British "Peculiar Crimes Unit"-as created by Christopher Fowler. The Water Room is not only charmingly written, it has one of the best mysteries I've read in a long time, actually unusual and interesting in itself, aside from the book's humor and delightful characters. The book manages to be Victorian, early twentieth century and modern at the same time. It is a good novel as well as a mystery which is not something I can always say, eve ...more
Nov 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this one better than the first of the series, probably because I've got to know the main characters and setting. I didn't understand everything (the technicalities of the London underground rivers and flood drainage were a bit complicated, especially as I finished it in a red eye flight from Asia!) but that didn't spoil anything for me. I like the humour and style of writing very much, so I think I'm going to get hooked on the whole series! Thanks, Claude, for the recommendation!
Jan C
Nov 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, england, 2012
Aw, this was great. These two are insane.

Who knew there were rivers under London? Actually made me get another book, London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets.

Really enjoyed this.
Mary Sue
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about London. I enjoyed the Oscar/Felix relationship of detectives Bryant and May. I love the name of their agency...Peculiar Crimes. Our book club chose this author for August meeting. Everyone read a different book in the series and commented how they were totally surprised by the ending. Endings made sense but what a surprise. I will probably read more in the series.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dying2read
Grumpy old men and other eccentric members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit pursue the unusal death of a woman found seated in a chair in the basement of her house.

It was fun to try to come up with a solution for the death, but even more fun to witness the behavior of these misfit characters.

Brant and May remind me of The Odd Couple; Felix and Oscar.
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a good book. I quite like the way Christopher Fowler writes. The book is difficult to put down. It's even full of facts about London, which is quite a bonus. The characters, at the PCU, and the way they handle their business is very enjoyable.

Definitely worth a read.
Pamela Mclaren
Jan 10, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedic
Its the quirkiness of the two main characters that keep you reading in this series built around a odd ball police agency that solves the crimes that traditional crime detection can't. I have read through all but the last one and I always find a smile on my face as I read.
Melissa B.
Jul 26, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't think this would end up being as good as the first book in the series, but I actually liked it even more! The whole series are great summer reads.
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, owned-books
When Christopher Fowler announced that he was to write a series of books based around his repeating characters, Detectives Bryant and May of the Metropolitan Police's Peculiar Crimes Unit, I was initially quite excited. A couple of books later, however, I was less enthusiastic. "Full Dark House", the first of these books, was not amongst Fowler's better works and the second, "Seventy Seven Clocks" was merely a slightly edited version of his earlier novel "Darkest Day", which had also not counted ...more
Sep 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
#2 Bryant and May mystery, featuring our two elderly policemen and the entire PCU (Peculiar Crimes Unit) in London. The unit is finally ready to move into their refurbished quarters after the fire that destroyed nearly everything at the end of the first book in the series. Bryant and May, both fearing that their boss is going dissolve their unit at the drop of a hat, are determined to keep themselves and their subordinates busy. They begin to investigate cases brought to them by friends or acqua ...more
Alexander Inglis
Elderly Ruth Singh, smartly dressed, is sitting in a chair, feet together, hands in her lap, as if ready to ready to make a shopping trip. Except, she's found in her basement, not her parlour, and her head is titled back. Though dry as bone, she has apparently drowned and there is muddy Thames water in her mouth. Time to call in the Peculiar Crimes Unit and the also quite elderly John May and Arthur Bryant to solve this "locked room" mystery in tale number two, The Water Room, by Christopher Fow ...more
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third time I've read this, but not for quite a while and I enjoyed it best this time. How could a woman drown sitting in a chair in her own home - and leave the room and her clothes dry? Balaklava Street, part of an area with streets named for battles during the Crimean War, has a dozen or so Victorian houses now inhabited mostly by yuppie type families who are looking to upgrade the houses, sell them and move on to bigger and better things as they head up the social ladder.
Mrs. Sing
Adam Stone
May 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Water Room is the second Bryant and May mystery. It begins with the Unit being refurbished after the events in Full Dark House. It begins with an old friend of Bryant's who has found his elderly sister dead in the house where she lived alone. After the body is examined it is revealed that her mouth was full of river water, and that she drowned, but that the room was bone dry. This is soon followed by another death on the street in equally bizarre circumstances.

I really enjoyed this book and
Marc  A.
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving this a 5 Star rating as I consider it as good as it gets in it's particular genre. That genre I would call "The British Cleverly Plotted But Also Humorous Mystery Genre". In this case the author also adds a nice portion of very interesting esoteric history and lore about the city of London which was a huge bonus from my point of view. Humor? The special detective unit in this award winning series of crime novels (I believe there are nine now)is called the PCU for Peculiar Crimes Unit ...more
On the whole, I liked this mystery, and enjoyed the characters. The elderly detective team of Bryant and Mays were a great discovery, and most of the regular supporting cast well done. The idea of a peculiar crimes unit is very appealing and sort of x-file-ish. I also was really interested to read about the history of rivers and water works in London, particularly how the waters have been channeled underground. The pace of the book bogged down (ha!) at times for me, but it could have been becaus ...more
Dec 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, thriller
Having finished this, I have to say it isn't quite my cup of tea. I was curious enough to keep at it. I enjoyed the bristly characters and their funny dialogue, I felt for them sometimes as well, just not enough I suppose. And being new to modern mysteries, I had trouble even recognizing that there had been a definite crime committed even two thirds through the book- the author just kept me scratching my head for a very long time. Did the book start slow, or ramble and lose me? I don't think so, ...more
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I realized it was a reread, but I understood the workings of Bryant and May better having read "Off the Rails". I also followed the twisty plots in this one better once I knew what to look for. I do like the way the underground rivers of London feature in this story. There's so much I don't know about htis old, old city. And by comparison, American cities are mere infants. At any rate, I really like the relationships between the Peculiar Crime Units members and the friendship of Bryant and May. ...more
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Christopher Fowler is an English novelist living in London, his books contain elements of black comedy, anxiety and social satire. As well as novels, he writes short stories, scripts, press articles and reviews.

He lives in King's Cross, on the Battlebridge Basin, and chooses London as the backdrop of many of his stories because any one of the events in its two thousand year history can provide ins
More about Christopher Fowler...

Other Books in the Series

Bryant and May (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Full Dark House (Bryant & May, #1)
  • Seventy-Seven Clocks (Bryant & May, #3)
  • Ten Second Staircase (Bryant & May, #4)
  • White Corridor (Bryant & May, #5)
  • The Victoria Vanishes (Bryant & May, #6)
  • On the Loose (Bryant & May, #7)
  • Off the Rails (Bryant & May, #8)
  • Bryant and May and the Memory of Blood (Bryant & May, #9)
  • The Invisible Code (Bryant & May #10)
  • Bryant & May and the Bleeding Heart (Bryant & May, #11)

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