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The Victoria Vanishes (unabridged audiobook) [Audiobook, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Christopher Fowler , narrated by Tim Goodman

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Book Description

1 Sep 2008
One night, Arthur Bryant witnesses a drunken lady coming out of a pub. The next morning, she is found dead at the exact spot where their paths crossed. Even more disturbingly, the pub has vanished and the street has changed. Bryant is convinced that he saw them as they looked over a century before - is elderly detective losing his mind? Then it becomes clear that a number of women have met their ends in London pubs and the likeliest suspect seems to be a mental patient. But knowing who the killer is and catching him are two very different propositions. As their new team at the Peculiar Crimes Unit goes in search of a madman, the octogenarian detectives ready themselves for the pub crawl of a lifetime, and come face to face with their own mortality... This recording is unabridged. Typically abridged audiobooks are not more than 60% of the author's work and as low as 30% with characters and plotlines removed.

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Product details

  • Audio CD: 9 pages
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audio Books; Unabridged audiobook 9 CDs edition (1 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1407422979
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407422978
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 14 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 588,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Fowler was born in Greenwich, London. He is the multi award-winning author of thirty novels and ten short story collections, and the author of the Bryant & May mystery novels. His first bestseller was 'Roofworld'. Subsequent novels include 'Spanky', 'Disturbia', 'Psychoville' and 'Calabash'. His books have been optioned by Guillermo Del Toro ('Spanky') and Jude Law ('Psychoville'). He spent 25 years working in film.

He recently wrote 'Red Gloves', 25 new stories of unease to mark his first 25 years of writing. His memoir 'Paperboy' won the Green Carnation Award, and is being followed by a new volume, 'Film Freak', in April 2013. Other new books include the dark comedy-thriller 'Plastic' and 'Invisible Ink: The Mysterious Case Of The Disappearing Authors'.

He has written comedy and drama for BBC radio, including Radio One's first broadcast drama in 2005. He writes for the FT and the Independent on Sunday, Black Static magazine and many others. 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. In the past year he has been nominated for 8 national book awards. He is the winner of 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, 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 King's Cross, London and Barcelona.

Product Description


The narrator, Tim Goodman... delivers Fowler's caustic humour with brio. --The Times

One of our most unorthodox and entertaining writers. --The Sunday Telegraph

Fowler's latest bears all the hallmarks of the classic British mystery. --The Guardian

About the Author

Christopher Fowler is the author of five further acclaimed Bryant & May mysteries including Full Dark House, which won the BFS August Derleth Award for Best Novel, and The Water Room, nominated for the CWA People's Choice Dagger Award and the August Derleth Award. He has also written several other novels and an autobiography, Paper Boy. He lives in King's Cross, London.

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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written mystery 30 Oct 2008
By Ellis Bell - Published on Amazon.com
The Victoria Vanishes is the sixth installment in the Peculiar Crimes Unit series featuring Bryant and May, two detectives who have unusual methods of solving unusual crimes. One evening, in front of the Victoria Cross pub, Bryant sees a woman murdered. Later, when he goes to investigate, he finds that the pub doesn't exist. One murder turns into several as a killer is tracked down.

There's not only murder in this intelligent mystery, but lore about the old pubs of London and a government conspiracy. The strength of the novel lies in the psychological evaluations of the murderer, the characterizations of Bryant, May, and their colleagues, and the pub lore. As one of the characters says, "The pubs of London are taken almost completely for granted by those who drink in them. Every single one has a unique and extraordinary history...these places hold the key to our past, and therefore present. They're an unappreciated indication of who we are, and a sign of all we've lost and remember fondly." And every now and then, Fowler attempts to infuse the book with a little humor. This novel is well-written and charming, and I look forward to reading more novels in the series.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is not a work to be skimmed on the bus, but rather to be read in the quiet of solitude 18 Nov 2008
By Bookreporter - Published on Amazon.com
The Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) mystery series by Christopher Fowler is one of a kind. Unapologetically British, one finds elements of Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, James Bond, "The Avengers" and "Danger Mouse" circulating throughout the books, yet the concept is delightfully unique. The PCU is a division of the London Metropolitan Police Department, which has been in existence for over 60 years. Arthur Bryant and John May, its stalwart, eccentric detectives, have been at the de facto helm for more or less the entire time, riding herd over a group of square but interesting pegs who can't fit in anywhere else.

In THE VICTORIA VANISHES, middle-aged women are turning up dead in London pubs. The manner of their deaths --- the administration of a painless, extremely quick-acting poison --- is puzzling as well. What is confounding is that Bryant appears to have been the last person to see one of the victims alive, outside of a pub that had been demolished some 80 years previously. He is at a loss. Already coming to doubt the veracity of his observational faculties, he is seriously contemplating retirement. As with so many of their other investigations, the sheer volume of Bryant and May's case history, and Bryant's encyclopedic if arcane body of knowledge --- hampered only by his sporadic though temporary memory lapses --- ultimately win the day.

There is a bit of logic to this, given that, in their world, Bryant and May have been investigating cases for over six decades in one location. Elements of past and present cases dovetail, cross over, dip and swirl, and fall back on themselves. But in this book, when the identity of the murderer is revealed and the cad is apprehended, Bryant is not done. There are some unanswered questions that deal not so much with the murderer's motivation --- that is all too clear --- but with what, or who, wound him up and pointed him toward these particular victims. And what about that vanishing pub?

THE VICTORIA VANISHES is one of those rare books in which the real excitement begins after the murderer is brought to justice. And talk about multiple endings! Fans of the series will be screaming, jumping up and down, unable to believe what they are reading by the time they reach the conclusion. I had to read the ending a couple of times before it sunk in that Fowler indeed was actually carrying out an act that had been hinted at since the beginning of the series. Or is he? That is but one of the many attractions of these novels, which are as delightfully and insidiously addicting as a serotonin supplement.

Fowler makes demands on the reader: the plots are complex, the characters are multi-faceted, and the humor is fast, furious and subtle. This is not a work to be skimmed on the bus, but rather to be read in the quiet of solitude so that every word, sentence and nuance can be fully appreciated alone and within context.

--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm far too old to start obeying the rules now." 16 Nov 2008
By E. Bukowsky - Published on Amazon.com
In Christopher Fowler's "The Victoria Vanishes," the London-based Peculiar Crimes Unit investigates the case of a mysterious killer who targets women, seemingly at random, in English pubs. Arthur Bryant and John May, who are senior detectives and long-time partners, for many years have used their esoteric knowledge, unique skills, and willingness to skirt the law to solve unusual and confounding crimes. Both men are past retirement age and it shows. May, who is the more grounded of the two, is ailing and scheduled for surgery; Arthur's memory, vision, and hearing are all gradually deteriorating and he is considering retirement.

Meanwhile, both men still care deeply about their mission: "to deal with crimes that could cause civil unrest and political embarrassment," as well as with those arcane matters that no ordinary detective would have the imagination and expertise to tackle successfully. Unfortunately, the top brass at the Home Office has long tried to shut the PCU down. To hasten the unit's demise, a stickler for procedure named Jack Renfield has been named the PCU's Duty Sergeant. He smugly declares, "I'll be putting a curb on some of your more illegal habits...making sure there are no more of your famous breaches of conduct."

When Arthur witnesses a woman walking into a pub called the Victoria Cross, he believes that he has unearthed a clue to a series of killings could conceivably terrorize the city's female population. However, he later discovers that the Victoria Cross has not existed for over seventy-five years. Is this a sign that he is losing his mind at last? Why would someone kill women in pubs at all, a place where there are witnesses galore? Even when the PCU's team closes in on a suspect, Bryant suspects that the situation is far more complex than any of them could have imagined.

The most entertaining aspects of this novel are its intelligent humor and amusingly sarcastic and witty dialogue. I laughed until I cried at the irreverent eulogy delivered by Bryant at the wake of the late, unlamented Oswald Elias Finch, the PCU's former pathologist who died in his own morgue. Bryant drunkenly ticks off the deceased's less attractive qualities: "No sense of humour, no charm, friendless, embittered, stone-faced and bloody miserable, on top of which he stank." For some unaccountable reason, Bryant has the job of disposing of the dead man's ashes, an assignment which proves to be a bit too much for the sloshed detective.

Fowler celebrates the unique character of London, a place steeped in both history and eccentricity. He has created a wonderful cast of characters in the PCU: Sergeant Janice Longbright, a lonely woman who has sacrificed a social life for her career and is beginning to regret it; Meera Mangeshkar, a tough female cop who grew up on a council estate; the ethereal April, John May's granddaughter, a recovering agoraphobic who is superb at assembling and interpreting police reports, evidence, and witness statements; twenty-eight year old Giles Kershaw, a brilliant Eton graduate who is stepping into Finch's shoes as the unit's new pathologist; and Dan Banbury, a hacker who uses his considerable abilities as the PCU's "IT guy and crime scene manager." Each of these individuals has a role to play and, although they bicker at times like any family, they have grown to care deeply about one another.

The book's sole flaw is the mystery itself. For quite a while, the novel moves along briskly, building up a fair amount of suspense, but the implausible and anticlimactic conclusion falls flat. Nevertheless, fans of this series should read "The Victoria Vanishes" for its colorful descriptive writing, inventiveness, and veneration of London's fascinating ambiance. Fowler appreciates life's vagaries as well as the importance of maintaining a bit of skepticism even when things appear to be as plain as the nose on your face.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Bryant goes on a pub crawl 1 Dec 2013
By Jeanne Tassotto - Published on Amazon.com
This is the sixth in the BRYANT AND MAY (PECULIAR CRIMES UNIT) Mystery series.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit has gathered for a sad occasion, one of their own has died in the line of duty (THE WHITE CORRIDOR) and the group has retired to a local pub for a final send off. Somewhat the worse for wear Mr Bryant walked home along the familiar streets. The next morning he realized that he had 1) possibly seen a murder and 2) misplaced the urn containing the ashes of his deceased colleague. As Bryant, May and the rest of the PCU tried to sort out these matters they managed to travel through an astonishing number of London pubs. In the end they do of course manage to put everything to rights but not before having one of the most memorable pub crawls ever recorded.

This series is written in a humorous manner but it is definitely not a comic mystery series. The stories tend to be a bit dark, and the puzzles are challenging. In many ways the stories are reminiscent of the Avengers tv series. Some elements of the paranormal are referenced but, at least to date, nothing has occurred that is not explained by mundane means in the end. There is a strong overall story arc to this series, so it is definitely recommended to read the books in order.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peculiar but Fun 28 Mar 2010
By G. Messersmith - Published on Amazon.com
This is evidently a series of Bryant and May detective novels by Fowler but this is the first one I have read. I must say I enjoyed it immensely and you don't have to read the ones that came before it to enjoy the novel. Anyway Arthur Bryant and John May are a couple of elderly detectives who work for the Peculiar Crime Unit (PCU) of the London Police Department. The PCU has been in existence for 60 years and Bryant and May seem to have been there since its inception.

It begins with Bryant leaving the wake of a colleague, Oswald Finch, walking home when he spots a woman entering a bar which has not existed in London in over 80 years. Then the next day the woman is in the morgue and thus begins the investigation by the PCU. The woman has been injected with some type of drug at the base of her neck in a crowded bar and the whole team begins investigating women found in similar circumstances. Of course finding the killer means staking out various bars and pubs in London and some other unusual clubs as well. This novel is full of interesting tidbits about London's history as well as diverse and unusual people.

Bryant and May are workacholics who lead a team of junior detectives through loyalty. The PCU is not welcome at the other London Police Department's units and the head management is always trying to think up ways of disbanding this unique group. This novel will keep you interested all the way to the last page and I couldn't figure out the ending until I got there. Great murder mystery book!
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