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Ten-Second Staircase: (Bryant & May Book 4) [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Fowler
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A controversial artist is found dead in her own art installation inside a riverside gallery with locked doors and windows - the only witness is a small boy who insists the murderer was a masked man on a horse. A television presenter is struck by lightning while indoors... Two seemingly impossible crimes that only Arthur Bryant and John May of the Met's Peculiar Crimes Unit might be able to solve. But Bryant has lost his nerve following a disastrous public appearance, and May is fighting to keep the unit from closure. Worse still, the case of the Leicester Square Vampire, an unsolved mystery from the past that changed both their lives, has returned to haunt them.

With a sinister modern-day highwayman bringing terror to the London streets in a series of crimes each more puzzling than the last, the elderly detectives track their suspect to an exclusive private school and a deprived housing estate. But just when they need all the help they can get to uncover a new breed of criminal, the highwayman is hailed a national hero, and the public turns against them...

Bryant & May are back on the case in an adventure that explores the dark side of celebrity, the conflicts of youth, age and class, and the peculiar myths of old London.

Product Description


"Genuinely witty and original...madly entertaining. Fowler is in exuberant form here...the suspense is thrilling" (NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW)

"Places Fowler in the first rank of contemporary mystery writers" (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)

Book Description

Fiction's most enigmatic detectives since Holmes & Watson return in their fourth outrageously entertaining adventure...

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 906 KB
  • Print Length: 403 pages
  • Publisher: Transworld Digital; New Ed edition (30 Jun. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003R0KYW4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,223 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Christopher Fowler was born in Greenwich, London. He is the multi award-winning author of many novels and short story collections, and the author of the Bryant & May mysteries. His first bestseller was 'Roofworld'. Subsequent novels include 'Spanky', 'Disturbia', 'Psychoville' and 'Calabash'. He spent 25 years working in the film industry.

His collection 'Red Gloves', 25 new stories of unease, marked his first 25 years of writing. His memoir 'Paperboy' won the Green Carnation Award, and was followed by a 2nd volume, 'Film Freak'. Other new novels include the dark comedy-thriller 'Plastic' and the haunted house chiller 'Nyctophobia'.

He has written comedy and drama for BBC radio, including Radio One's first broadcast drama in 2005. He has a weekly column called 'Invisible Ink' in the Independent on Sunday. His graphic novel for DC Comics was the critically acclaimed 'Menz Insana'. His short story 'The Master Builder' became a feature film entitled 'Through The Eyes Of A Killer', starring Tippi Hedren and Marg Helgenberger. Among his awards are the Edge Hill prize 2008 for 'Old Devil Moon', and the Last Laugh prize 2009 for 'The Victoria Vanishes'.

Christopher has achieved several pathetic schoolboy fantasies, releasing a terrible Christmas pop single, becoming a male model, writing a stage show, posing as the villain in a Batman graphic novel, running a night club, appearing in the Pan Books of Horror, and standing in for James Bond.

His short stories have appeared in Best British Mysteries, The Time Out Book Of London Short Stories, The Best Of Dark Terrors, London Noir, Neon Lit, Cinema Macabre, the Mammoth Book of Horror and many others. After living in the USA and France he is now married and lives in London's King's Cross and Barcelona.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book 25 May 2006
So begins this, the darkest adventure yet for Fowlers geriatric investigators.

An awesome piece of fiction that trawls through this duo's past inadequacies and mistakes, only to have them mirrored by the events their present investigations create.

Faced with the yet again imminent threat of closure of the PSU, these two irascible opposites complement each other perfectly in their desire to solve the current series of murders committed by the elusive Highwayman. Together with the increasing knowledge of it's connections to the oft mentioned case, in previous novels featuring this duo, of the Leicester Square Vampire, they stumble back and forth from past to present aided by two generations of May's descendants, hindered by an equal number of generations evil.

Shrewdly skillfully crafted characters old and new. Fowlers appreciation of the darker side of humanity, together with the faltering innocence of his lead characters helps to bind the plot of the novel firmly within the bounds of possibility and indeed at times probability. His unique talent for combining factual historical events from the city of London's past, with the stubbornness and persistent inquiry into events old and new by Bryant & May beggars belief. An extremely well researched novel, which shows in the depth of minutiae that Fowler describes from his home cities ancient and more recent past. Almost chronological at times, but a valid historical record of the United Kingdom's capital city and the dark and evil denizens who shaped it's mythology and lore in the minds of their victims then, and now in the legend and doggerel that passes into the minds of children from their parents to this day.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A curate's egg 10 Aug. 2009
By P. Rees
This is the third Bryant & May mystery I have read, and I'm still in two minds about the series. With regard to the Ten-Second Staircase, the characterisation of the two leads was very good, their eccentricities being endearing. There was also a very good sense of place, particularly with regard to the influence London's past has on its present. And the whole set-up is so bizzare that it wins you over (the climax being well-realised). For all these reasons, this novel is well worth reading.

On the negative side, the plotting seemed rather sluggish at times, and some of the dialogue was rather stilted. There were several points where I found myself skim-reading because there seemed little actually happening. The Bryant & May series is a real curate's egg but worth persevering with as its good points outweigh the bad.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great Fowler novel 16 Sept. 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ten-second Staircase is another of the Byant and May mysteries.

It is possible to read these novels individually, but I would recommend starting at the beginning so that you can fully appreciate all the characters and understand the references that run throughout the series.

If you haven't read a Christopher Fowler novel before I would recommend 'Darkest Day' or 'Full Dark House' as an introduction to Bryant and May, or 'Disturbia' if you just want a brilliant novel.

In The Ten-Second Staircase a controversial artist has been drowned in her own installation (a tank filled with formaldehyde and a number of aborted foetuses!!) The only witness to the crime is a young schoolboy who was sketching in the room at the time of the murder. He says the crime was committed by a Highwayman on a horse...

Following this a number of minor celebrities are also murdered and each time the witnesses claim to have seen a Highwayman.

Soon London is in the grip of Highwayman- fever, with the gutter press claiming that he is a hero. Will Bryant and May be able to discover the true identity of the Highwayman and stop any further killing?

This is a really typical Fowler novel. Quirky, good fun and creepy in all the right places. He also throws in a few bits of London trivia along the way (For example, I now know why Georgian railings often have pine cones adorning them)

As usual, highly recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb flight of forensic fiction 27 Aug. 2007
Actually it's far better than simple forensic fiction. The totally brilliant Bryant and May [the two detectives] don't so much strike a light in the murky world of London's darkening mysteries, as illuminate the essential qualities which make this series one of the truly great detective series. If you love London, English mysteries, seeing things from new perspectives, like English eccentrics, but above all want a cracking good read, then Ten Second Staircase is for you.

This is the third Bryant and May novel about the Peculiar Crimes Unit which I have read one after another. That shows that they are terrific thought provoking adventures, as well as first rate crime stories.

Read it, buy it, enjoy it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More mysteries illuminated... 29 Aug. 2007
By Robah
Once again the wonderful Bryant & May continue to light up the page with a modern day twist on the Highwayman as folk hero leading to possibly the series' best denouement so far.

Add this to plot strands and sub-plots involving ancient religious orders, agoraphobic family members, feuding street gangs and the resolution of a case first mentioned in Roofworld and you'll find this very hard to put down.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Easy to read and follow-held my interest all the way through.Love the two main characters.
Published 6 days ago by Vivienne Yorke
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Awesome read, Great crime series
Published 27 days ago by Mr. M. Peters
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good value and reliable delivery
Published 2 months ago by skimbleshanks
5.0 out of 5 stars recommended.
Marvellous!! Here the intrepid B&M and the PCU find themselves faced with a murderer who appears to be dressed as a Highwayman and to top it all he seems to appear from nowhere and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Wendy McFarlane
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
enjoyed this book . always good to read a book from this series
Published 6 months ago by mrs a weight
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Christopher Fowler at his best - and it filled in the gaps on a few things
Published 8 months ago by Mrs B
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm not sure whether I really enjoy these books
I'm not sure whether I really enjoy these books. I'm going to try another to see whether that engages me
Published 9 months ago by PaulaP
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern youth
I have had to read the Bryant and May stories out of order which I know the author says is ok but seems odd to me. So I was glad to get to know about the Leicester Square Vampire. Read more
Published 9 months ago by JUAN Loureiro
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant Bryant and May
Each book gets better, a good story line that keeps your attention to the end and looking for the next installment
Published 12 months ago by C. R. Dinham
5.0 out of 5 stars Another joyous treat from Bryant & May
Another intriguing installment in the series, quirky, clever and as always different to anything else in the detective genre. Read more
Published 14 months ago by DeeDeeBel
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