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The Memory of Blood: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery    by Christopher Fowler order for
Memory of Blood
by Christopher Fowler
Order:  USA  Can
Bantam, 2013 (2012)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This latest Peculiar Crimes Unit suspense yarn by Christopher Fowler, finds senior detectives John May and Arthur St. John Bryant grappling with a locked room mystery that has everyone in their unit baffled.

The shocking murder of an infant occurs at the child's family home when someone apparently throws the boy out the second story nursery window. With a party going on downstairs, there seemingly might be numerous suspects, but since the bedroom was locked from the inside, the police investigators find themselves facing a puzzling situation.

The only object of interest or clue in the nursery is a Punch & Judy puppet which apparently was removed from a downstairs collection and left on a cot in the locked bedroom.

When Arthur is told by his partner to not read too much into the antique representation of Punch, he replies, 'I can't help it. After all, what's one of the first things Mr. Punch does in the play? He throws the baby out the window.'

With this startling piece of information it becomes apparent that the Punch & Judy marionette will play an instrumental role in solving this strange case. A couple of other murders follow and, in every instance, there is a link to the Punch and Judy puppets.

Since the case unfolds in a theatrical milieu, the dead child's parents and some of the other victims are all connected to a play that has created quite a stir in London, Bryant and May decide to resort to a little trickery from Shakespeare's Hamlet to unmask the killer.

'The play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king,' explains Arthur as he plans to use Hamlet's ploy to 'force our murderer out into the open and goad him into admission'.

These two octogenarian British detectives and their quirky, unconventional methods have captured the imaginations of scores of readers. Dubbed by one critic as 'Sherlock Holmes meets Inspector Clouseau', this eccentric duo is given the most outrageous and bizarre cases to solve.

In eight previous novels, not only have Bryant and May done so with intelligence, panache and a touch of humor, but they have also managed to endear themselves to thousands of readers around the world who have come to love their eccentric approach to solving the most challenging and unusual of crimes.

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