Title: The Invisible Code
Author: Christopher Fowler
Publisher/Publication Date: Bantam Dell; pub. date December 17, 2013
The Invisible Code is book 10 in the Bryant and May series. Normally, I make it a point never to jump into the middle of a series. I realize that the first book in a series often isn’t the best book in the series so for some readers, starting down the line can be a good thing. I’m big on continuity though so when I started reading this and realized it was part of a series, my initial thought was to stop. The first chapter was just so enjoyable though that I kept going.
There are occasional moments throughout the book where not having read the previous ones does rear its ugly head. Primarily when mentioning previous cases and a possible conspiracy in action. Overall, though, Fowler does an excellent job on keeping the reader involved and aware even without this background knowledge. The copy I had, included a couple of notes about previous books and Fowler manages to elaborate on certain elements to provide any needed information.
Arthur Bryant, head of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and his partner John May get drawn into a special case involving the wife of the head of Home Office security. A woman who is either haunted or going insane. A seemingly unrelated and inexplicable murder slowly reveals itself to be more and more entwined in their current special assignment. Bryant plays a much larger role throughout the book than May. He’s a bit bumbling but, unsurprisingly, this tends to obscure a sharp wit and brilliant mind. This bumbling type personality also makes it a little easier to follow along with the twists and turns in the case as Bryant talks his way through much of his thought process.
I’d describe the book as a cozy urban fantasy mystery. A sort of cross between Agatha Christie and the world of magic. I can’t guarantee that Fowler’s other books also lean towards the cozy type of genre, but that is the impression that I get. Those new to the series could easily start in on this book or begin with the first novel. I intend to go back and give the first 9 books a read to get a better sense of the overarching mystery that seems to run through the series. The book itself is a quick and easy read, enjoyable in its mystery and characters, not requiring a great deal of effort to get into and enjoy.