Synopses & Reviews
It's a crime tailor-made for the Peculiar Crimes Unit: a controversial artist is murdered and displayed as part of her own outrageous installation. No suspects, no motive, no evidence it's business as usual for the Unit's cantankerous founding partners, Arthur Bryant and John May. But this time they have an eyewitness. According to twelve-year-old Luke Tripp, the killer was a cape-clad highwayman atop a black stallion.
As implausible as the boy's story sounds, Bryant and May take it seriously when "The Highwayman" is spotted again, striking a dramatic pose at the scene of his next outlandish murder. Whatever the killer's real identity, he seems intent on killing off a string of minor celebrities while becoming one himself.
As the tabloids look to make a quick bundle on "Highwayman Fever," Bryant and May, along with the newest member of the Unit, May's agoraphobic granddaughter, April, find themselves sorting out a case involving an unlikely combination of artistic rivalries, sleazy sex affairs, the Knights Templars, and street gang feuds. To do it, they're going to have to use every orthodox and unorthodox means at their disposal, including myth, witchcraft, and the psychogeographic history of the city's "monsters," past and present.
And if one unsolvable crime weren't enough, this case has disturbing links to a decades-old killing spree that nearly destroyed the partnership of Bryant and May once before...and may again. The Peculiar Crimes Unit is one murder away from being closed down for good and that murder could be their own.
"This fourth Bryant and May novel delivers a delirious blend of black humor and suspense recommend it to readers looking for something different in an English procedural." Booklist (Starred Review)
"[A] lively example of Fowler's imaginative approach to what is essentially a traditional whodunit....[M]adly entertaining....Fowler is in exuberant form here." Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
"Fowler has a glorious command of language...and has the most fertile conversational patter of anyone save Jonathan Gash. How many locked-room puzzles can the duo unlock before their Peculiar Crimes unit is disbanded? Many more, one hopes." Kirkus Reviews
"Fowler offers a distinctive prose style and characters so unusual that it is difficult to think of another author's work this creative, unless, of course, it's Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. For readers who enjoy a bit of the bizarre in their mysteries." Library Journal
"There is so much to like here....[The dark humor], combined with Fowler's off-kilter storyline and intriguing criminals, makes Ten Second Staircase the strongest entry in the series to date." BookReporter.com
A bizarre killer nicknamed "The Highwayman" has turned London's blazing-hot summer into a ticking time bomb, but never fear, detectives John May and Arthur Bryant are on the case! "[Christopher Fowler is] a new master of the classical detective story." The Denver Post
About the Author
Christopher Fowler is the acclaimed author of thirteen previous novels, including the first three Bryant & May novels: The Water Room, Seventy-Seven Clocks, and Full Dark House, which won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel and was nominated for a Barry Award. He lives in London, where he is at work on his fifth novel featuring Arthur Bryant and John May.