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Publisher's Summary

Best-selling author Christopher Fowler has won a widespread following for his senior-citizen detectives Arthur Bryant and John May. Here a woman is found drowned in her basement - with nary a drop of water to explain the crime.
Strange cases: listen to another Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery.
©2004 Christopher Fowler; (P)2005 Recorded Books LLC

Critic Reviews

"Traditional mystery buffs with a taste for the offbeat will relish British author Fowler's wonderful ... contemporary whodunit." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Baby Boomers Rejoice: This is a book for our time.

I never give mysteries a five, but this one deserves it. What a find!

2. Characters. John May is rational, extraverted, orderly, popular and a student of human psychology. Arthur Bryant is introverted, intuitive, disorderly, difficult, and a student of everything except human nature. They have been partners for nearly fifty years. To stay together in the PCU they have refused promotion, and they are doing everything necessary to resist the forces pressuring them to retire.

In spite of the fact that they have been together for so long, each has the capacity to surprise and to annoy the other.

2. Narrator. Tim Goodman is as good as they get. He subtly slips from his role as omnipotent narrator to any of the dozen voices he has created for the story,and like the other excellent readers, he can change his distinctly masculine voice to one that is clearly feminine without a noticeable change of pitch and without sounding ridiculous.. You always know who is talking, but no single voice demands more attention than any of the others.

3. Plot. One of my criteria for a good Audiobook is length. Dickens is, by far the best buy, but this one, at 14 hours, is excellent value for one credit. The plots are clever and coherent. If you are not paying attention you can listen to parts of the story for a second or third time and enjoy them that much more.

4. Writing. I give Dan Brown a 1-. Donna Leon and Sue Grafton go between 2 and 3. Fowler is a solid
His prose is fresh. He uses words and phrases I've never heard, and the dialogue - especially between John and Arthur is so well and lovingly crafted that I'm tempted to buy and read a hard copy of the book.

42 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Great story and narration!

This was a really good audiobook. The story had just the right amount of mystery and humor. And the narrator was superb. I wish Audible had more of the Peculiar Crimes mysteries and more of this narrator's works.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Really great fun

I bought this book last fall and realized that it was the second in a series. Being a serial reader, I located the first book and read it. Then I jumped into this one. I can honestly say that this author is getting better with each book (and no, you don't have to read book 1 first - they mention events from it but it's not required). As others have said, the prose is delightful; dialogue outstanding; Bryant and May are a terrific pair, well-suited to each other. Fowler assumes that he is writing to an audience that is bright and does not stoop to explain the obvious. After a few hours of listening, I searched the web for London's lost rivers to get a general map of the area.
Tim Goodman does an excellent job with the narration and the voices for all the characters - from the women to the tramp.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • LA
  • 05-12-09

8 glasses a day!

A wonderful listen - the narrator is flawless, making each character distinct and brilliantly conveying character. The story is compelling and filled with obscure London lore but never dull. I was a little worried at the beginning, which was not indicative of what develops right away, but sticking with it is well worth your while.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lee
  • Kenthurst, Australia
  • 06-07-11

Engrossing story, eccentric characters

The Water Room featuring vintage detectives Bryant and May is an engrossing mystery filled with a host of eccentric characters brought to life by the excellent narration of Tim Goodman. Close listening is essential so that you don't miss any of the detail that brings this story and the characters to life. I loved it, and found myself sitting in the car just to keep listening - and like reading any good book was disappointed when it caame to an end. It might be an acquired taste, but for me the Peculiar Crimes Unit mysteries are a taste that I will keep coming back for.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fascinating and fun

Have been reading Bryant and May for years and so happy to find them on audible. To those listeners who are too young to know, their names are a gentle bit of fun in themselves. "Bryant and May" were the manufacturers of the most popular British brand of matches, in those years when they were a household necessity.

The narrator has perfectly captured these elderly detective friends as well as all the other diverse and amusing characters in the PCU. Their cases are peculiar and fascinating with many unexpected twists and turns. The wealth of unusual and interesting facts about London and its history, is an additional pleasure, but presented so easily within the story that you soak up the information almost unconsciously. A complete listening pleasure, and I look forward to collecting all the other Bryant and May audiobooks.

Thank you audible.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Peculiar crimes and peculiar characters....

...abound in this delightful book, the focus of which is The Peculiar Crimes Unit in the London Metro Police, where Arthur Bryant and John May have been posted in lieu of retirement. What a pair they are! And they are surrounded by eccentric and fascinating characters. You'll get a good dose of London trivia/history in this book, as well as a clever mystery that is unraveled bit by bit. It took me about 15-20 minutes to get into the rhythms of this book, which then carried me along like the London rivers it features. Tim Goodman's narration is as good as it comes; he does a splendid job of transitioning from character to character in a book that tells alot of its story with dialogue. I adored this book. Definitely a cut above the average mystery. Mr Fowler writes with intelligence, wisdom, humor and compassion. I've already ordered the next in the series.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • paul
  • big pine, CA, United States
  • 03-04-10

pretty fun

some good accents, lots of atmosphere, lots of good background, engaging characters. The author knows a lot about the subject: it's an anatomy of the water system, and, like the anatomy of melancholy, perhaps a bit too long. Still, enough different than the run-of-the-mill whodunit to keep me listening.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I joined Audible for this series.

I loved these books. Satisfying mysteries that make me laugh out loud. I hope to see more books by Christopher Fowler available.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Story
  • KP
  • United States
  • 04-28-14

Not For Me After All

This is the second Peculiar Crimes Unit mystery I've read. While the first was not my favorite, I thought the characters had some endearing qualities, and so gave this one a try. London is once again at the center of the story (this time, its waterways), but in a less interesting way than in the first novel, which was partially set in wartime London. The storylines are at times hard to follow, and I found the dialogue tiresome because it did not reveal new things about the characters (rather, it reiterated what had been learned about them in the first book). The narrator does a fine job with what he's given.

I just can't get into this series the way I was hoping to (and the way I have with Louise Penny's Gamache mystery series and Craig Johnson's Longmire mystery series). Better luck to other listeners.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • 09-13-13

A great place to start a wondeful series.

I fell in love with Bryant and May from first book I listened to. I got into the series by following a recommendation and picked a book a random which as it turns out wasn't the fist in the series. It didn't matter. I was hooked!

I have come back and started listening from the beginning. Having got into the characters already I found Full Dark House slightly disappointing and I would suggest this might actually be a better place to start the series. There are a couple of references to what went before in the first book before but anyone starting here won't feel like they have missed anything. In this book both characters appear fully formed and you get to know them as they are now - rather than bouncing back to an old case and the Peculiar Crimes Unit being formed. The voices, brilliantly narrated by Tim Goodman also appear more confident and seem to take the form in which they will continue.

I love the characters, in particular Bryant's blunt honesty and dry sense of humour. The story - as all of Fowlers other stories keeps you hooked, and although it gets a bit ridiculous at times with perhaps just one too many deaths and always the question that seems to run through all his books about whether the PCU be shut down you get carried along. May acts as a perfect foil for Bryant's eccentric approach. While I don't now London very well the detail behind the stories is fascinating. I thoroughly recommend the series - and if you are looking for a place to start I would (bizarrely) suggest this might be better than Book 1

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Alison
  • 02-18-13

Echoes of 'Whispers Underground'

Not that this book and the Rivers of London Trilogy are the same in terms of writing style, but the complex plot lines involving London's underground rivers, off-beat crime units in the depths of the Met and the whiff (in this case) of magic all made this book remind me strongly of the Rivers of London series - which is all about magic, basically.

Long passages in this book slightly lost me because I wasn't fully interested at times, but I think they were about building a picture of the main characters, which it vividly did. Could have been a bit shorter and still told a good tale. But I did enjoy it. Also I read them out of sequence having accidentally missed Book 1 - it didn't matter at all.

Well read. Good voices for each character, with an unhurried pace - much like the plot.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Cannylad
  • 11-04-11

The perfect couple

Christopher Fowler's Bryant and May and their entourage are great detectives of the old school and their investigations are as peculiar as the criminals they come across. The stories are always captivating in their detail but I will never read one again.
I've come across the perfect couple in Fowler and Goodman. Tim Goodman's narrative is one of the best listens ever. The voice characterisations are truly inspired and simply reading the book will never be the same again so from now on it has to be Audible to get the best from this author.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rachel
  • 02-21-12

Fantastic story, very well read

Christopher Fowler's mystery The Water Room has a compelling plot featuring London almost as a character in its own right. In addition to a superbly crafted storyline and some great twists and turns, the narrative is littered with titbits about London's underground and lost rivers. Bryant and May, the elderly detectives from the Peculiar Crime Unit, are brought to life by Tim Goodman's voice characterisation, with Arthur Bryant in particular sounding exactly as he did in my imagination when I read the book some years ago. If you've not come across any of the Bryant and May books before, this is a great place to start.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Jayne Baker
  • 07-31-15

Marvellous dear chap

These are a great stories and well rounded characters that give the reader/listener a look at a different London through the eyes of two ageing police officers. Don't be fool that they are in any way ordinary and these mysteries are of the standard who dunnit- they are not. With one level head kindly and other tangential arcane loving and curmudgeonly they make a great pair. You'll be pleasantly surprised- I was!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Steven
  • 12-01-13

Definitely peculiar

Bryant & May are two of my favourite detectives. They have a blend of imagination and practicality that gets the job done. And what a job! There is a body but nobody is sure if there is a crime and things just get more and more complicated. There is not a dull moment and the book builds to a fascinating climax beneath the streets of London and then calms down for May's full explanation. Wonderful stuff as usual from the Peculiar Crimes Unit.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mr. S. A. Longley
  • 04-07-13

The Dynamic Duo

Bryant and May remind me of the TV show "New Tricks", with aging Policemen solving old crimes. The ages of our heroes however puts them to shame. They must be in their 80's surely. I first came across Bryant and May in one of Christopher Fowler's horror novels and instantly loved these two quirky characters. Being a non believer I love the fact that many of the seemingly supernatural events have a more down to earth explanation, but requires the intellect of our two heroes to get to it. The narration is excellent and really brings the characters to life. I am hooked on the series and will be listening to more.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Linda
  • 12-03-15


Would you consider the audio edition of The Water Room to be better than the print version?

Having read the book some time ago and thoroughly enjoying it, we decided to try the audio version. They are equally good because one you see from your own perspective and the other is drawn for you.

What did you like best about this story?

The twist, turns and red herrings. Exciting stuff.

What about Tim Goodman’s performance did you like?

We think that Tim reads these books with perfect empathy. He has a voice that draws you in.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The Bryant and May books all have a good deal of humour in them with a mix of excitement and tension.

Any additional comments?

We would definitely recommend these books to whodunnit readers of either sex with a good sense of humour. The author has a brilliant imagination.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ian
  • 10-06-11

Worth sticking with

OK, so this is not a work with a lively pace, but it has an originality that makes up for this and is certainly worth persevering with. Hitchens tries to build a three-dimensional cast with us seeing into their lives even when they are not obviously advancing the narrative. It's a pity that the first book in this series does not appear to be on Audible, as there are frequent references to it here. Many of the central characters here appear in other volumes of the series, set in time well before this one.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • 06-16-16

A real gem

I discovered this series by chance and am so glad I did. An intriguing premise well written and excellently narrated. A perfect piece of escapism with a small dash of ' anything is mission's.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful