A Writers Writer – Christopher Fowler – Bryant and May Mystery Series


Here is what research will tell you about Arthur Bryant and John May who are Golden Age Detectives in a modern world. They head the Peculiar Crimes Unit, London’s most venerable specialist police team, a division founded during the Second World War to investigate cases that could cause national scandal or public unrest. The technophobic, irascible Bryant and smooth-talking modernist John May are partners I have grown to appreciate as I read my way through Christopher Fowler’s well written and amazing mystery series.

51ZB88ZubOL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_I started Seventy-Seven Clocks Saturday night at bedtime. I never got out of my PJ’s on Sunday, propped up in bed most of the time, delighted once again to be in the company of  two of my favorite characters. Late Monday morning I bid them farewell until next time. The following few lines will help introduce you to these two interesting men.

“That was the difference between himself and May, John had no attachment to the past, sentimental or otherwise. He was interested in moving on. He saw life as a linear progression, a series of lessons to be learned, all extraneous information to be tossed away, a continual streamlining of ideas. Bryant collected the detritus of historical data as naturally as an anchor accumulates barnacles. He couldn’t help it; the past was as fascinating as a classic beauty, infinitely fathomable and for ever out of reach.”


Fowler’s writing is irresistible as far as I’m concerned. There is little doubt of his brilliance providing layers of fascinating information about London, the underground trains, pubs, theater, art, all depending on his settings for each intricate mystery. FYI: The novels are written chronologically, but you can read them out of order.

Here is one more example of Fowler’s writing in Seventy-Seven Clocks: “Here they were, he thought, the Family Whitstable, well schooled, well shod, and well connected, the cream of British society. The kind of Hard Tory, High Church, pro-hunt landowners idolized in magazines like Tatler. Photographed at weddings or debutantes’ balls they appeared affable and elegant, but gathered en masse, they forget the rest of the world existed.” 

I give each of the books I have read in this series a #10 – Let me know what you think

1. Full Dark House (2003)
2. The Water Room (2004)
3. Seventy-Seven Clocks (2005)
4. Ten Second Staircase (2006)
5. White Corridor (2007)
6. The Victoria Vanishes (2008)
7. On the Loose (2009)
8. Off the Rails (2010)
9. The Memory of Blood (2011)
10. The Invisible Code (2012)
11. The Bleeding Heart (2014)
12. The Burning Man (2015)
13. Strange Tide (2016)
14. The Wild Chamber (2017)
Bryant & May’s Mystery Tour (2011)
The Casebook of Bryant May: The Soho Devil (2013)
Bryant & May and the Secret Santa (2015)
London’s Glory (2015)


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Thanks To Bookworm Buffet – A Review of Greening of a Heart

A special Welcome to those participating in the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip or have just read my reflection posted on the #Challenge Blog Site


I owe a big THANK YOU to Barb Radisavijevie who blogs at Bookworm Buffet. She lives and writes in California. She has written a detailed review of Greening of a Heart. Never doubt the far reaching consequences of the blogging world. This was my 4th year to participate in the A to Z Blogging Challenge. This year I wrote 26 posts on the architecture and impact on the community of historic hotels and inns. It was well received judging by the stats surrounding the posts. Bookworm Buffet must have liked what she found when visiting, did a little exploring, and downloaded from Amazon, Greening of a Heart.  I’m delighted that her appreciation for the novel led to this review and recommendation.

Here is the link to review. Perhaps the setting and characters will call to you too!

An excerpt from the review……My Recommendation

I got very involved in this book. I began to really care about these new book friends. If you enjoy books that are more character than plot based, if you like watching people examine their lives with a mind to understand themselves and others, you will find this a rewarding read. You will see people falling in love, reconciling their differences, and experiencing spiritual and marital renewal through relationships begun in a garden.

If you thrive on relationships with people and like to observe positive changes in their lives, you will want to read Greening of the Heart. It will make you think about your own life and relationships as you watch the drama unfold. If you are also a gardener, this book will have an added layer of meaning for you. If you enjoyed reading the Mitford Series or Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fanny Flagg, I would also expect you to find Greening of the Heart appealing. If you haven’t read any of these, what are you waiting for? You won’t want to miss any of these books.


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One of These Mornings, You’re Gonna Rise Up Singing – June 25

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
                                 John Lubbock, The Use Of Life

One More Time: Click on the music for this Summertime Series

We have been remembering with great fondness, a collidescope of images from the past that mean summertime to each of us. We’ve been thinking about what our summers are like now. I hope you have enjoyed the quotes I have used to add richness to these posts. Your great comments have added interest for sure.

June has long been associated with weddings, so I think it is appropriate for this last post in this series to remember a wedding in South Carolina; a daughter of dear friends. This is a second marriage for the bride and groom, the merging of two families. Another wedding filled with laughter, music, and the scent of flowers in the air. Not kids any more, I feel sure the bride and groom have acquired the ability to rest in idleness from time to time watching the clouds float by. Let all of us remember that this is not a waste of time, but something we learned how to do while growing up, something summer provided time for, a moment we can still benefit from. Wishing everyone a great rest of the summer!


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The Cotton is High – June 24

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime

images-3“Every summer, like the roses, childhood returns.”
― Marty Rubin

I am blessed with young children in my life. Their parents have been posting fabulous summertime photographs. Because I love these delightful children, the photos are special to me, and they are perfect examples of what I have been writing about in these summertime posts. Together we have been remembering our own child free summers… I hope you enjoy these photo and use them as prompts in your remembering.

Summer Childhoods – Making memories

1979700_10206148241492360_6962718311526144961_nFrom a beach trip, to a summer birthday party, the village fair, and off to a week of camp…I remember when, do you?

Summertime and the living’ is easy, fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.

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Cotton Is High – June 23

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy…and no money to buy it with.”                      

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

What could be more wonderful on a hot June day than to read or reread To Kill a Mockingbird. I have used two of Harper Lee’s quotations from the book in this series of summertime posts. The word sweetness lingers in my mind after I reread To Kill…. a few months ago. Don’t forget you can watch the Gregory Peck movie too. In combination, it will be one of your best memories this summer, I guarantee it. Treat yourself to a summer only Harper Lee can give you.

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The Cotton is High – June 22

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“summer, after all, is a time when wonderful things can happen to quiet people. for those few months, you’re not required to be who everyone thinks you are, and that cut-grass smell in the air and the chance to dive into the deep end of a pool give you a courage you don’t have the rest of the year. you can be grateful and easy, with no eyes on you, and no past. summer just opens the door and lets you out.”
                    Deb Caletti, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

This quotation puts me in a mood, how about you? I can feel my breath quieting as I walk out into my garden, with no eyes on me as Caletti mentions. The mower next door is the only disturbance yet provides that cut-grass smell. I am grateful and easy. I repeat a morning ritual….this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it, only this time not from my bed, but standing outside on this June day. There is the past to consider. The summers when we were let out and looked forward to endless days of freedom, and then a past filled with things done and left undone, as the prayer book says.

I think we should be quiet people today, not required to be what others think we are. Rejoicing in the past, both good and bad, for after all, it took both sides of that coin to make us who we are today. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

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The Cotton is High – June 21

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer.”
 Anna Godbersen, Bright Young Things

This series of summertime posts have been about remembering a younger time in our lives, when in my generation at least, we were free to roam and play, to use our imaginations and pretend all manner of things. Because I am an addicted reader I have used the writing of others to highlight the posts with thoughtful quotes from their work. How surprised they would be to know that their words have influenced our own introspection about the summer in each of our lives.

In my mind, I can only think of summers rolled into one, where things happened over and over, yet are highlighted with memories like the summer I learned to ride a bike and kept falling into the neighbors bushes. All the twilight times that signaled it was time to go home. Many first two weeks in August when the girls took over Camp Echo, the YMCA camp in Fremont, Michigan.  All the times of sunburn, new shorts and sleeveless blouses. The summers I went to Hobby Horse Stable to ride my horse; summer horse shows, and a few ribbons. Falling in and out of love on a regular basis. I was effervescent then and if that translates to enthusiasm, eagerness, and curiosity, than I am still that way. This June we are all free to recapture some of the things that summers were once about. Thank you for joining me and leaving wonderful comments about how this summer is working out. See you tomorrow if you are free to come out to play.

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The Cotton Is High -June 20

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don’t, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.”
                  Polly Horvath, My One Hundred Adventures

You have to catch your breath after reading this long sentence, but I liked the reminder of what it was like to visit the library during  summer. When we moved two years ago to  ‘the cottage for two,’ I headed to the little library in town to get a library card. I didn’t have my new drivers license yet, and was told I would need to return with a piece of mail, a bill, that showed my address in order to prove residency. You don’t know me well enough to know that I am a political junkie, so this rule in order to get a library card made me want to lean over the counter and kiss the woman behind the desk. It was either that or stand there bent over laughing. You can tell which side I come down on when it comes to Voter ID.  Get the damn photo taken or whatever, if you want to vote!

But I have strayed from the gentle thoughts of selecting library books to bring home for the week, able to read at my leisure, morning, noon, or night. A life long habit of reading started in the school library, taking me on to the big Evanston Library, and beyond.

Here are a few book titles I recommend for this summers reading. #1 Facing East-Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin, #2 Magic Time-Doug Marlette #3 Under An English Heaven-Alice Boatwright #4 Death at La Fenice- 1st in the Donna Leon Series #5 Bury Your Dead- Louise Penny series, but do read them in order. #5 The Death of Santini-or anything else written by Pat Conroy. Please add your recommendations in the comment section.

Don’t forget, you can’t have a LIBRARY CARD without identification, needed for most everything else in life except maybe to vote! Go figure.


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The Cotton is High – June 19

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


What Does Summer Look Like? Here is a wonderful description that I LOVE. It helps me find my own language in order to write about a time gone by and the summers that I hope still to have. I hope you will add a line in the ‘comments’ to further Jones’ description.

“It looks like fallen petals, and it looks like rain. It looks like the sounds the birds make at dawn. It looks like the aisle of grocery stores when a song I love suddenly begins to play overhead, and I cannot help but dance a little dance. It looks like a sigh, a kiss, an unmade bed. It looks like Cheerios in a white bowl with a bit of silence on the side. It looks like a plain vanilla cupcake in white paper, a dance with the wind, pink toenails, warm socks. It looks like a fire against the cold of winter, and a deep lake cool against a summer sky. It looks like chick flicks, books that make you cry, and all the candles blown out on the first try.”
                                                  D. Smith Kaich Jones

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The Cotton is High – June 18

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“Spring flew swiftly by, and summer came; and if the village had been beautiful at first, it was now in the full glow and luxuriance of its richness. The great trees, which had looked shrunken and bare in the earlier months, had now burst into strong life and health; and stretching forth their green arms over the thirsty ground, converted open and naked spots into choice nooks, where was a deep and pleasant shade from which to look upon the wide prospect, steeped in sunshine, which lay stretched out beyond. The earth had donned her mantle of brightest green; and shed her richest perfumes abroad. It was the prime and vigour of the year; all things were glad and flourishing.”
                                   Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

I have changed the photograph for this third week of posts about summertime. I selected it from my Pinterest boards  because it reminds me of the architecture in Evanston, IL. where I grew up. The Dickens quote could have been written about Evanston too.

This series of posts has been like looking at a slide show of old photographs, slowly clicking by. I see myself walking beside my mother down Asbury Avenue to Davis street where the grocery once was. I recall the neighborhood children from several blocks around, some days incurring skinned knees from some escapade or another. I remember the used Hudson car I was given for my 16th birthday, and the high school friends that gathered that day for a surprise birthday party. Some of those precious friends are still woven into the tapestry of my life.

I read that the name, Stepheny, means ‘crowned one.’ Growing up when I did, a summer free child, I realize how blessed I was then and remain today. I may not celebrate summers in the fashion I once did, but the Dickens quote seems a perfect description of once upon a time, not so very long ago…and reminds me of the crown I have been given. My summer has been enriched by writing these posts. I hope they have helped you approach this summer more intentionally, and that you are having a great June.



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Fish Are Jumpin’ – June 17

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“Cricket to us was more than play,
It was a worship in the summer sun.”
Edmund Blunden

I didn’t grow up with cricket, though Downton Abbey has provided a window into how important it is to those who play and watch the sport. Cubs baseball in Wrigley Field is another matter. My parents took me to see the Cubs play, and in old age, they sat in front of the TV watching every game. Their great grandson, Sam, is a Cubs fan.

Who can forget Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) in the movie, Bull Durham? This is what the ‘boys of summer,’ young and old alike, believe about the sport.

Walt Whitman once said, “I see great things in Baseball. It’s our game, the American game. It will repair our losses and be a blessing to us.”
— Annie Savoy

Annie Savoy also said, “I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball…You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never boring… Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone, I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him, and the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen…Course, what I give them lasts a lifetime; what they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade. But bad trades are part of baseball… It’s a long season and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.”

Hope you get to watch YOUR team play a ballgame this summer from a good seat, eating a great hot dog, with a win.

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Fish Are Jumpin’ – June 16

Welcome if you are visiting because you are on the 2016 A to Z Post Challenge Road Trip This is a series during the month of June celebrating Summertime


“Summer vacation is about watermelons, shaved ice, popsicles, summer festivals with fireworks, and the ocean!!! That’s what summer has been about for elementary school kids since the dawn of time!
  Peach-Pit, Shugo Chara!, Vol. 2: Friends in Need

Today, thinking of our memories of summer, let’s make a list and begin to replicate them.  I think we can all begin with the items mentioned above: Watermelon, popsicles, fireworks…

I am going to add…ice cream cones, picnic food, picking blackberries, catching fireflies, tennis games, parades, sitting on a beach towel, wet feet from dew on the grass, roller skating, putting air in my bicycle tires, Camp Echo-girl’s camp in Fremont Michigan, reading on the screen porch…to name a few.

Some of my list will be impossible to repeat. I can no longer walk to the corner to buy my Dad’s newspaper for a dime, but I can serve dinner outside tonight, a menu that includes food off the grill, and watermelon for desert. What’s on your list that you would like to do tonight?

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