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Bryant & May: The Lonely Hour

(Bryant & May: Peculiar Crimes Unit #16)

4.38  ·  Rating details ·  429 ratings  ·  61 reviews
The brilliant Arthur Bryant and John May take the late, late shift in a cat-and-mouse hunt with a killer who preys on his victims at the same time every night--the lonely hour of 4 A.M.

When a man is found hanging upside down inside a willow tree on Hampstead Heath, surrounded by a baffling assortment of occult objects, the Peculiar Crimes Unit is called in to investigate.
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published December 3rd 2019 by Bantam
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Maine Colonial
This is not a whodunnit. We’re told almost immediately who the perpetrator is. What we don’t know is why he killed, why he keeps on killing, how he commits the killings, what connection there is among his victims, and how the Peculiar Crimes Unit will manage to figure this out.

I won’t talk about the plot; there is plenty of that in the book description. What we do get, as we do in most books in this series, is Arthur Bryant’s impressive and entertaining knowledge of the history of practically
Jill Meyer
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Fowler’s latest book in his “Bryant and May” series is “The Lonely Hour”. It’s set in what seems to be slightly futuristic London where Fowler shows an increasingly dystopian society, where the government has closed 40 local nicks and mobile thefts are so common they’re not treated as actionable crimes by Scotland Yard. The Peculiar Crimes Unit is trotting along with Arthur Bryant and John May at the helm, still being tossed cases by the Met that don’t fall into the purview of the ...more
Johnny Johnson
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awww bliss - another wonderful Bryant & May story to "warm the cockles of your heart" (Saying from C17th - possible corruption of Latin cochleae “ventricles” in cochleae cordis “ventricles of the heart” as Mr Bryant would probably point out).

With its mixture of brilliant dark humour and gripping night-time London setting this is one of the best Bryant & May stories. There is the usual mix of fascinating facts, urban folklore, thrills and geriatric jousting - I swear I've learnt more from
Laura Spira
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another excellent book from Christopher Fowler about the Peculiar Crimes Unit. Sound plot, good characters, a brilliant tour of the darker spots of central London and a huge dose of arcane vocabulary. And a cliffhanger ending. Looking forward to number 17.

(A Slough House/PCU mashup would be interesting...)
Les Pepper
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would have finished this book much quicker but I kept on delaying reading near the end of it.
I simply didn’t want it to end.
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the beginning of "The Lonely Hour" we know who the killer is, but the reader is left wondering why a group of people are being deliberately targeted for death. In book 16 of the "Peculiar Crimes Unit Series", Arthur Bryant and John May have to find a murderer who strikes exactly at 4 o'clock in the morning - "The Lonely Hour".
The first victim is a taxi driver, found hanging upside down inside a willow tree on London's Hampstead Heath. He has bled to death. At first the detectives think this
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-thriller
I enjoyed this new B&M book, but it wasn't as gripping as usual, the murderer is identified almost on page 1 (p11 actually) so it's the why that concerns us, and again that is evident less than halfway through, and it leaves the PCU trailing woefully behind the reader to catch up. It's rather tiring to yet again have the Unit under threat of closure, and the off hand way both the death of one of Bryant's contacts, and poor Crippen were dealt with left a bad taste. Of course everything comes ...more
Diane Dickson
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It seems ages and ages we've waited for this. Anyway, here it is - all the friends, all the furore and all the fun. The author admits to having fun writing it and that certainly comes over in the reading.

it's rather gory if you let yourself picture the scenes and the final chapters are located, I think, in what must be one of the circles of hell - this would make a great film.

As always there are lots of delicious titbits about London that make you want to go down there with the books and
The Lit Bitch
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I picked up this series a few years ago, one of the things that stood out to me was how much it focused on the mystery rather than the actual characters.

I mean the characters are well drawn and developed on their own, but the idea is to really look at the mysteries of the Peculiar Crimes Unit and I love that the author has kept that the focus throughout this series.

I read the first two or three books in this series and then was on to something else and now here I have picked up this one and
Alex Sarll
The veteran detectives find themselves faced with a series of obscurely linked murders taking place at 4am, apparently the time when people are at their lowest ebb to the extent that generally even murderers steer clear of it. They were retconned a few books back not to be quite so ancient as in the series' earliest entries, but nonetheless death and decline dog their steps even beyond the killer's victims. A killer to whom the readers are introduced fairly early on, meaning the interest is less ...more
Susan in NC
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, taking off a 1/2 star for cliffhanger ending. I love this series and eagerly await every new book, and this one didn’t disappoint- there was the usual diabolically clever murder plot, quirky, witty characters and dialogue, and very timely motive for the murderous rampage - but there was a darker tone at the end, along with the cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Bryant and May and the PCU.

I read the book from my library and listened to the audiobook; the narrator does an
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: london, mystery
Before I write a glowing review, why has this series not been picked up for TV? Every time I read one of these books, I wish that Netflix, or Starz, or one of the other networks would option this. It's perfect.

Happiness if a new Christopher Fowler book. And he is one of the very few authors who's writing gets better with each new book. Because I work in a book store, and really am the only mystery reader, I get access to a lot of mysteries. Christopher Fowler is without a question, my favorite
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another great read from the best elderly detectives the literary world has known. The killer’s identity is revealed early on, but the ‘whydunnit’ is gradually unravelled through the rest of the book, with the eccentricity, quirkiness and humour we’ve come to know and love from Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May series. A focus on external characters more than the core team of the Peculiar Crimes Unit perhaps stopped this from being my favourite of the series but still thoroughly entertaining.
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful Bryant and May, my favourite series.
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
brilliant and funny and interesting as usual
John Miller
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply the best.

Of all the Bryant & May novels this has been wonderful. The characters are now beautifully “real” in all their faults and foibles. Thank you Mr. Fowler.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Bryant and May.
Louise Oakes
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another fabulous outing for the Peculiar Crimes Unit and a further look at the less well known but interesting facts and features of London.
Criminal Element
The tidings of doom as this novel begins are coming less from actual fact than from a psychic acquaintance of Bryant’s whom he’s only too happy to insult as a cut-rate Cassandra. Still, Bryant can’t help but worry. Theirs is a partnership that relies on the other for balance, though the less generous could claim that it’s really eccentric, abrasive Bryant who needs May more than the other way around:

There remained about Bryant something twinkling and primal, a light burning in the ignorant
...more Mystery & Thriller
My favorite occurrence at the end of each year is the appearance of a new Bryant & May/Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) novel. Anyone who loves reading and has not experienced one of these books is being cheated, though it is easy enough to rectify the matter. With the newly published THE LONELY HOUR, Christopher Fowler has written 16 of them, as well as a short story collection (with another on the way).

Readers of the series are treated to a history lesson and tour of London; exposure to an
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: michael-read
Wow! Another amazing book from the folks in the Peculiar Crime Unit. These books are among my favorites, but they are almost impossible to describe or review.

Let's just say the later books, like this one, probably don't work that well as standalones. If you like intelligent and quirky stories, pick up the first one and you can look forward to a nice line of pleasurable reading.

This book features some of the standard elements -- the main British police force attempting to discredit and destroy
Mary Kearney
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy this series very much. The books in this series often wander into bits of history about London provided by the geriatric detective, Mr. Bryant. There is an element of humor provided by interaction between the characters. This particular book I felt, was a little slower then some of the other books in the series. We are aware of who the killer is but not the particular motive of why he is killing.
The Perculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) is given the case because the first victim is found hanging
Jill Hutchinson
This is the latest Bryant and May release and it has a whole different feel from the other books in the series. There is a sadness which prevails as members of the PCU start arguing among themselves.....they always argue but in this book it is different. There is a sadness and signs of weariness with most of the regular characters and one turns out to be a back-stabber which threatens the continuation of the unit.

It is impossible to write a synopsis of the plot since it, like all the other books
Mrs J Warwick
Nov 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Crackers as usual but brilliant too

I had been wondering if Vi was Hugo’s daughter and what had happened after the accident with the taxi.. Also worrying about Sparrow’s frozen feet, I wanted her to get her trainers back asap. It all seemed a bit bizarre in the underground tunnels, how Mr B spotted the copper wire was amazing. Mr May should have realised he was being played , let’s hope he’s learned his lesson and acts his age . I mostly love Mr B’s idiocincranies and roar with laughter at his
Rex Roberts
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Different Story

Yes, every Bryant & May story includes Arthur being eccentric and John being levelheaded. Each prior novel had the PCU continuously balancing weird with pragmatic while fending off policy and procedure. At it’s core, this novel is no different and while the lightheartedness is there, it is a tad more bleak throughout. The murders are senseless and misguided but the investigation seems in a constant state of chaos that, even at the end, never fully resolves itself in the
Grace Tierney
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore this series. The peculiar crimes unit is such a fun group of detectives and Bryant (one of their two elderly leaders) is such a lovable, witty, intelligent grouch. If you like Lobdon, history, and crime this is the one for you and the appeal is universal. My Dad loved them and I recently read some sections to my teen daughter and she thought it was hilarious as well as being good crime fiction.

This time a seemingly unconnected set of people are being murdered one at a time at the lonely
Leonardo Etcheto
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another convoluted one, really did not see the ending coming at all. Fun and educational as always, picked up a few vocabulary words and some London history. Arthur takes center stage in this book, May barely registers as a presence until the end. That is too bad because their interplay is a big part of the charm of the books, but some of the other detectives and especially the boss Land pick up the slack.
Fowler really has an eye for the ridiculous – bat enthusiasts witnessing a crime in the
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-england
Once again Bryant and May try to solve a series of crimes that no-one else realizes are a series. The first death, on Hampstead Heath, has the trappings of black magic around it. The second seems like an unfortunate accident on a bridge. By the third, the existence of the Peculiar Crimes Unit itself is under threat. Warning to readers: much as I enjoy these books, this is one of those unfortunate hybrids where the reader knows who the killer is but the innocent characters in the book do not. All ...more
Katie Whitt
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Larry Fontenot
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read all of the Bryant and May novels and they are all equally engaging. With strange murders, occult happenings, and a very strange but credible cast of characters, these novels are simply fascinating. This one is a bit more foreboding than the rest, since the two lead characters are suffering through a schism. But as we all know, even the strange habits and style of Bryant have reasons. Always look forward to the next Bryant and May and after the ending of this novel, that wait will be ...more
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Librarian note:
There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name

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

Other books in the series

Bryant & May: Peculiar Crimes Unit (1 - 10 of 16 books)
  • Full Dark House (Bryant & May, #1)
  • The Water Room (Bryant & May #2)
  • Seventy-Seven Clocks (Bryant & May #3)
  • Ten Second Staircase (Bryant & May #4)
  • White Corridor (Bryant & May #5)
  • Bryant & May Investigate the Victoria Vanishes (Bryant & May #6)
  • On the Loose (Bryant & May #7)
  • Off the Rails (Bryant & May, #8)
  • Bryant & May and the Memory of Blood (Bryant & May #9)
  • The Invisible Code (Bryant & May #10)
“You know there’s something seriously wrong with your life when the high point of your Christmas Day is worming a cat, but, as Mr Bryant likes to remind me, anyone seeking dignity will find it in the dictionary just after ‘death,’ so let’s move on.” 0 likes
“It’s impossible to use up cats, they just keep reappearing. Didn’t she have lots of kittens?” 0 likes
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