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4.3 out of 5 stars43
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 19 February 2011
I am getting very fond of the Bryant and May series and so far ,three books in,the standard is improving.This episode is set in the well remembered days of the Heath governments three day weeks and power cuts,though I found the authors evocation of the period was less convincing than his previous wartime and modern stories.Members of an upper class family are being bumped of in gruesome and inventive ways and our not quite so geriatric heroes are on the case.As in The Water Room there's an introduced female lead to help the investigation and possibly assist the author in the selling of the film rights.
The plot and solution to the mystery are like the previous novels ludicrous but you suspend your own disbelief because you are enjoying the journey so much.The set piece finale works wonderfully in a Doctor Who/Lara Croft way and throughout the sense of fun is captivating. Highly recommended.
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on 23 January 2015
One of the bonuses of submitting reviews to a site like this is that if it's not very good or if you think of a way it can be improved later, you can simply edit it and have another go. But the same can't be true for a published author and their works. Once they're out there, there isn't a great deal you can do about it.

Well, actually, that's not entirely true. Stephen King released two versions of "The Stand", after his publishers demanded more was cut out of the original edition than he wanted to keep the price down and this was put back in for the second release. Dean Koontz has done the same, rewriting his 1973 novel "Demon Seed" for republication in 1997. Now Christopher Fowler has released "Seventy-Seven Clocks", which is not in fact a new novel, but a rewritten version of one of his earlier works, "Darkest Day", a novel the author himself claimed not to be entirely satisfied with.

The Whitstables are an old London family, fallen on hard times. Once an aristocratic family with links to one of the London guilds, in modern times their business interests aren't performing as well as they used to and one of their number has recently defaced a valuable painting. But there is worse to come as both he, his brother and his sister are murdered in strange fashions, along with their family lawyer.

Elderly detectives Bryant and May, of the Metropolitan Police Peculiar Crimes Unit are baffled. It is clear that someone has taken a strong dislike to the Whitstable family, but they can't work out who or why. There are no obvious links, other than those between the victims and the killers are rarely even glimpsed, much less caught. The family themselves may know something about the vendetta, but they are either too scared or think themselves too important to assist the Police.

What we get here is a pretty decent idea, although perhaps not wildly original as a whole. The beauty of this is in the detail, with the individual murders being quite nicely done and frequently unusual in scope, which is partly what confuses Bryant and May. The solution when it comes is not something I've seen elsewhere, either. Fowler also manages to keep Bryant's obsession with the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and the history of London at the centre of the plot, all of which combine to make quite a fascinating story.

Unfortunately, all these separate strands and interests can make things a little messy. Things do eventually all come together into a quite satisfactory conclusion, but it takes a little longer than it perhaps needs to getting there, even in this version which is shorter than the original. It does make for quite a slow paced read, which comes as a disappointment to fans of Fowler who will be used to things shifting a little quicker and also to fans of many modern day crime thrillers where the pace seems to be quicker.

I've never felt that Fowler's Bryant and May are his best, although he has worked a little better to his strengths this time, setting it in 1973 rather than the modern world, which means it feels a little less fantastical as it doesn't really have too much you can compare to the modern day world. However, his way of setting it in the past is a little clumsy and does make the book feel more like a sequel, although the story itself can stand alone, even for those not already familiar with Fowler's work.

Despite the good moments, this is quite a disappointing novel, as was the original version. If you're a fan of Police thrillers, there are better ones out there, with Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham being my particular favourites, although they do concentrate a little more on the mundane than Fowler does.

If you're already a Fowler fan and have read "Darkest Day", there is little point in picking up a copy of "Seventy-Seven Clocks", as it is virtually a carbon copy of the original. The real changes are merely cosmetic, with very little of the story unchanged, just with different people doing different things.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 11 August 2015
Seventy-Seven Clocks is a detective mystery featuring Christopher Fowler's regular pairing of policemen Arthur Bryant and John May.

Without giving too much of the plot away, at its heart are seventy-seven clocks deployed in an extravagant burst of megalomania which is redolent of James Bond villains at their very best. Credibility is certainly stretched by the conceit which powers the book's crime wave but it is a mystery book of the tradition that does not rely on magic or superstition to explain away apparently impossible situations.

It is, however, a mystery in the Sherlock Holmes rather than Ellery Queen sense in that there is no trail of subtle clues which the observant reader can follow to unpick the mystery ahead of the storyline's crimefighters. Instead, dramatic new information is regularly added to a plot that can only be worked out as it unfurls.

The book is a rewrite of an earlier version in which supernatural elements featured. One reason for Christopher Fowler to rewrite the book was that "as any mystery reader knows, resorting to the impossible is not playing fair". Traces of supernatural horror in the style of Edgar Allan Poe remain aplenty in the book, giving it an added tension, particularly in the excellent audio version.

The story is deeply rooted in the London of the 1970s, with many topical and geographic references. The coincidence of much of the book happening near where I grew up in London gave it an extra appeal, though also highlighted one or two cases where the London setting is not quite accurate. Anyone who had pondered running down Hampstead Tube Station's 320 steps, for example, will surely doubt whether policemen would eagerly rush down them - and catch someone who had started in a lift at the same time as them no less.

Those small quibbles aside, it is enjoyable to read a detective mystery so firmly rooted in Britain rather than yet another one located somewhere in America, however well executed the American plot may be.

Fowler, unusually for many mystery writers, portrays police politics, the workings of the media and even wider politics with a deft and plausible touch. Journalists and politicians are not saints in the book, but neither are they the 2D cartoon caricatures that too many authors lazily deploy. The references to Margaret Thatcher near the book's end may appear to strike a rather implausibly coy note, but actually do reflect what many people thought at the time.

The book has a wide and rich cast of characters, often quickly enlivened with vivid turns of phrase, such as Arthur Bryant's physical appearance being firmly sketched with the economical reference to him looking "like a jumble sale on a stick". The characters combine in a fast-paced plot that has action, tension and character development a plenty. It starts with a curious murder in the Savoy Hotel which Scotland Yard's Peculiar Crimes Unit is called on to solve. It's an extremely enjoyable read.

Listening to the audio version (brilliantly done by Tim Goodman) I did very nearly suddenly exclaim out loud, in the middle of a crowded train carriage, "Where the hell did that tiger come from?". It is probably a good thing I did not. I advise you too to avoid such an incident.
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on 17 September 2013
I was really looking forward to this and was unfortunately a little disappointed. I noted the author's comments at the start and I think that it may have influenced my opinion slightly but I hope not.

At times this felt a bit cobbled together. The prose was still absolutely lovely, rich and delicious. The scene setting was brilliant and the characters were clear and believable but some of it just felt like a bit of a cheat.

I didn't particularly like the references to the future as they took me out of the story and made me acknowledge that this was "just a book". Having said that I will read the next one as I do like these two old guys. I am hoping that they won't have to worry constantly about the survival of the unit and that just for once the darned rain will let up!! I love the way that the light and the play of illumination on the falling deluge is described but come on surely the sun will shine now and again. I don't want to be too negative because the book kept my attention right to the end and the action sequences were excellent but I didn't feel that this was as outstanding as the last two.
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on 5 April 2015
The third book in the Bryant & May series of slightly unusual crime investigations spins back to the 1970s and an investigation by the newly formed unit lead by the two detectives. The non-linear ordering of the stories in this series confused me slightly, and I get lost sometimes about which character is which and what I'm meant to know about them.

This time there have been a number of murders and the team are trying to track down the reason and the connection between the deaths in order to prevent more before their boss decides to shut them down. It's actually an interesting story and I found one of the guest characters particularly compelling to read, but there were several aspects which I found slow and repetitive and frustrated me slightly as I read.

Overall I'm a bit unsure of how I feel about the novel. My memory now (several weeks later as I write this) is one of enjoying the book, but I also have a memory of thinking at the time that I wasn't enjoying it and wondering whether I should abandon the series. On balance I'll continue, and see how I feel about book four.
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on 4 September 2014
I dread the day when I have read all of these books - I am stocking up with a few of Christopher Fowler's other books for that sad time, as I can't imagine following Bryant and May with any other author. I love the plots, the characters (particularly of the detectives) and the ambience of the books. The Water Room was eerily damp and creepy, whereas this one had more Grand Guignol elements, with a family from Hell to add entertainment. There is always the humour, the excellence of the writing and the fact that I really want to turn the pages! I remember those Ted Heath days and they were brought very much to life for me.
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on 3 November 2014
Another winner with Bryant and May. This time we see the PCU completely baffled as they try to track a murderer who seems to be invisible. Armed with endlessly devious and inventive ways to dispose of victims, it seems the team have met their match. That is until Bryant consults his wacky alternative friends and begins to see a pattern. Up against the Home Office as per and their demented "acting superiour", aka Raymondo, they have a race against the clock to solve this mystery before a wealthy aristocratic family is disposed entirely and for some reason, long before the Winter Solstice sets in. Highly recommended as all this series is, fabulous, very witty and entertaining.
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on 15 January 2012
Yes, I am of the 'love them' group. I have been trying to read all the B&M books, and discovered some appearances in Soho Black and more in 'Rune'. So I chased down a copy of 'Darkest Day'. However, this turns out to be just a different title & edition of 'Seventyseven Clocks', which I already had. So if you are collecting, don't bother with that one.

Lovely convoluted and bizzar plots and entertaining characters. I hope more new ones emerge. I have enjoyed his other stories as well, though have not read them all as yet. But these are the top ones.
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on 12 December 2015
My 477-page paperback is set in a small 10.5 point typeface, and yet my attention to the mystery never wavered. I have always found a Bryant & May investigation to be reliably compelling from start to finish.
This one has a female protagonist, age 17, join the octogenarian sleuths – which also adds a dash of romance to the puzzles and horror of multiple murders. As usual with author Fowler, the plot is unique, the twists frequent and the methods of slaughter amazing without being incredible. Highly recommended.
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on 14 February 2006
Apparently Christopher Fowler has said wanted to rewrite Darkest Day as he originally itended it....
Rubbish! Why stopped him originally? Nothing...
Fowler has been a excellent UK horror writer for about the last 18 years (since "Roofworld"), and Darkest Day was a great horror novel. The fact his Bryant and May "detective" novels have taken off seems to me to have inspired a very insipid rewrite. I liked the original much better. Sure, it had some silly bits, but it also had life and verve, two things this retread is sadly lacking.
AVOID unless you never intend reading Darkest Day!
I only hope he doesn't now start rewriting other old novels like "Rune" - which also featured Bryant and May...
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