First Sentence: With regard to your apprehension of the hired assassin operating in the King's Cross area, this so-called `King's Cross Executioner' chap, thank you for acting so quickly on the matter, although it's a pity he subsequently managed to give you the slip.
A killer known as Mr. Fox has been captured by Detectives Arthur Bryant and John May, but escaped, murdering one of their colleagues in the process. A body has been discovered in a station of London's Underground. Was Mr. Fox the killer or does the Peculiar Crimes Unit have another killer on their hands.
Okay, I'll start right out by admitting I love Bryant and May. In them, Fowler has created two of the most appealing characters being written today. And it is truly Fowler's excellent writing and voice which brings them, and the story, to life.
I have always appreciated books which include a cast of characters. Fowler found a particularly clever way of incorporating his cast of principal characters into the story as a staff roster. In this book, he provides a description of Bryant which truly does give "some measure of the man," and I love his Bryant's habit of reciting dictionary definitions.
Bryant and May, while being the central characters, are not alone but supported by a host of secondary characters each given distinct backgrounds, characteristics and contributions to the story. With each book, we learn more of each character's background and personalities. But beyond the central characters, it is a rare author who can make one feel an element of sympathy for a series killer, but Fowler manages so to do.
There is wonderful humor balanced by touching poignancy. There is a balance of historical information--the London Underground system--with very contemporary references--the use of a flash mob as a distraction. It is the inclusion of small details about which one normally doesn't think; such as the inclusion as to why escalators are always breaking down and the comparison between actors and serial killers, which I appreciate.
This is a book where one should have read the previous books in the series. Doing so would be no great burden as all the Bryant and May stories are so well done and delightful to read. I should hate to see this series end so, please, give them a try, spread the word and enjoy Bryant and May. "Off the Rails" is another excellent addition to the series.