Why hasn’t it been tackled before? The extremely quirky – and deliciously enjoyable — crime writing of Christopher Fowler (in his highly individual Bryant and May books) has long cried out for a graphic novel adaptation (the author’s own distinct sympathy for the comics medium may be a factor here), and Peter Crowther’s PS Publishing imprint has done him proud in this handsome hardback volume, with the text illuminated by the idiosyncratic drawings of Keith Page. The latter’s approach is direct and unfussy, which acts as a pleasing counterpoint to the bizarre curlicues of the narrative – and while some may feel that Fowler’s work seems to need the ministrations of a more eccentric artist such as Berni Wrightson, Page (a long-serving Commando illustrator) has done a highly commendable job.

He would no doubt hate to be called it, but Christopher Fowler is something of a British national treasure. Not content with being one of this country’s most imaginative writers of horror fiction, he has been creating what has become a crime fiction series quite unlike anything else being produced in the UK. What is particularly cherishable about the series is its ability to function on a variety of levels: as a straightforward exploration of detective story tropes (with a duo of protagonists who are utterly memorable in the eccentricity), as a constantly rejuvenated paen of praise to the city of London (few writers have such an acute sense of place as Fowler); as a delicious parody of the whole crime fiction form (but with sufficient seriousness to keep ridicule at bay) and – perhaps most significantly — as a series of narratives that exert an ancient Mariner-like grip on the reader.

The Casebook of Bryant and May Christopher Fowler & Keith Page is published by PS Publishing

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