THE VICTORIA VANISHES by Christopher Fowler


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The staff of the Peculiar Crimes Unit search for a killer working out of London’s pubs, including a nonexistent one, while they parry the usual threats to the PCU’s existence.

Only a week after the untimely death of pathologist Oswald Finch (White Corridor, 2007), the members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit face a challenging new riddle. Who’s meeting a series of middle-aged women in public houses and giving them lethal injections, and why? Most of the sodden witnesses they question had no idea what was going on under their noses, but one observer—Arthur Bryant, the PCU’s own senior detective—vividly recalls seeing Carol Wynley outside the Victoria Cross just before she was killed. The only problem with his evidence is that it can’t possibly be true, since the Victoria Cross was demolished in 1925. Is Bryant, who’s already mislaid the funeral urn containing Oswald Finch’s mortal remains, losing his marbles? Or did an establishment that’s been gone for 83 years suddenly return for a one-night encore? While Bryant, his longtime partner John May, DS Janice Longbright and the rest of the crew are struggling to answer these questions, they must deal with the arrival of Sgt. Jack Renfield, a stolid officer whose rule-bound approach could spell the end for the PCU, and the news that their building has been sold out from under them and they have to be out in the morning.

Learned excurses on pubs, conspiracy theories and the blood of Christ keep the pot boiling, though the answers this time aren’t as satisfying as the wildly inventive questions.

Pub Date: Oct. 28th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-553-80502-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2008


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