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Fowler, Christopher - 'The Water Room' (Unabridged Audiobook) read by Tim Goodman
Audio Cassette (2005) Publisher: Clipper Audio ISBN: 1845053184

Buy this from UK Audiobooks

THE WATER ROOM brings back the elderly detective duo of Bryant and May of London's Peculiar Crimes Unit. Whereas their previous outing, FULL DARK HOUSE, was set mainly during the Blitz, THE WATER ROOM is set squarely in modern day.

Arthur Bryant and John May are opposites which attract and they have worked together for over fifty years investigating those cases the regular police force cannot cope with, which seem to involve all manner of supernatural occurrences and oddities.

Benjamin Singh, an old friend of Bryant's comes to him about the death of his sister Ruth Singh, who he has just found dead in her basement, sitting in a chair dressed to go out even though she hasn't left the house in years. Bryant agrees to go to her house, 5 Balaklava Street, and look over the body. All seems straightforward until he discovers that Mrs Singh's mouth is full of dirty water and yet the room and the rest of her are dry. Some weeks later, the new resident of no.5 finds herself uneasy when she hears knocking noises and the sound of rushing water in the basement and soon Mrs Singh's death appears to have been just the beginning in a series of sudden deaths in the street.

Meanwhile May has his own watery mystery to investigate as he tries to discover what the husband of an old flame is up to. The husband, Greenwood, an historian has been approached about doing some semi illegal work after hours and as he's made out a new will, the work appears to be dangerous. Bryant and May follow Greenwood and discover that he's visiting a number of Londonís 'lost rivers' ie rivers which are now built over or culverted.

Bryant and May continue to work both cases until at the end they get their answers to both mysteries in the sewer tunnels under Balaklava Street.

I very much enjoyed catching up with the PCU team again; May the people person as well as a gadget lover; Bryant, unmarried and a loner and not so much a technophobe but someone who can make the Internet crash world wide at the touch of a button and their trusty sergeant Janice Longbright a mature lady who off duty dresses in the style of screen goddesses from the 50s. The banter between them is priceless.

As with FULL DARK HOUSE this is a complicated story to which my summary cannot do justice. Indeed near the end there is a chapter entitled 'Mr Bryant Explains It All For You'. I'm still not confident that I understand all the ins and outs of the plot strands but listening to Tim Goodman's narration is an absolute joy and fourteen hours well spent.

I was very impressed in how Mr Goodman aged the voices of May and Bryant for THE WATER ROOM as he performed the voices more youthfully for their twenty-something versions in FULL DARK HOUSE. He has some very educating and hilarious material to work with but the way he captures the two characters is spot on and I do hope he does the next book and very soon.

Karen Meek, England
December 2005

Karen blogs at Euro Crime.

last updated 23/03/2008 20:45