Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler #GuestPost #BlogTour

The year is 1969 and ten guests are about to enjoy a country house weekend at Tavistock Hall. But one amongst them is harbouring thoughts of murder. . . The guests also include the young detectives Arthur Bryant and John May – undercover, in disguise and tasked with protecting Monty Hatton-Jones, a whistle-blower turning Queen’s evidence in a massive bribery trial. Luckily, they’ve got a decent chap on the inside who can help them – the one-armed Brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf. The scene is set for what could be the perfect country house murder mystery, except that this particular get-together is nothing like a Golden Age classic. For the good times are, it seems, coming to an end. The house’s owner – a penniless, dope-smoking aristocrat – is intent on selling the estate (complete with its own hippy encampment) to a secretive millionaire but the weekend has only just started when the millionaire goes missing and murder is on the cards. But army manoeuvres have closed the only access road and without a forensic examiner, Bryant and May can’t solve the case. It’s when a falling gargoyle fells another guest that the two incognito detectives decide to place their future reputations on the line. And in the process discover that in Swinging Britain nothing is quite what it seems… So gentle reader, you are cordially invited to a weekend in the country. Expect murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion!

I'm delighted to be hosting the blog tour for Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler's Hall of Mirrors today. Many thanks to the author, publishers and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me.
Towards the end of last year I thoroughly enjoyed Christopher Fowler's fascinating, affectionate and witty book about writers who for one reason or another have slipped out of the collective consciousness, The Book of Forgotten Authors. It was a delight to read so I was disappointed not to be able to fit in reading his latest Bryant and May book for this blog tour. The Bryant and May Mysteries feature Arthur Bryant and John May who are detectives in the fictional Peculiar Crimes Unit. The series spans the years between World War II and the present; Hall of Mirrors is the fifteenth book in the series and is set in the pair's younger days in 1969. Having read some of the reviews from old and new fans of the series, I'm determined to check out the books myself. In the meantime, Christopher Fowler has very kindly written a guest post for me to share with you today.

BANBURY: A serial killer, that’s what I reckon we’ve got here. We’ve not had many of them at the Peculiar Crimes Unit, have we?
BRYANT: Not proper saw-off-the-arms-and-legs-boil-the-innards-put-the-head-in-a-handbag-and-throw-it-from-a-bridge-jobs, no.

From ‘Bryant & May off the Rails’

There’s a quote from Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the bouncing bomb that destroyed the Ruhr dams in WW2, who said, ‘There is nothing more satisfying than showing that something is impossible, then proving how it can be done.’ That was what interested me about mystery writing from an early age. Well, that and my mother saying ‘If you write a book it will remain in the library long after you’re dead.’ If any of you have read my memoir Paperboy you’ll know it’s typical of her to say ‘after you’re dead’ to a nine year-old.
When you read a murder mystery, do you read it to find out who did it, or because you like the main character? Me, I don’t usually care very much who the murderer was. I can name only three of Agatha Christie’s villains but I know exactly what Poirot and Miss Marple are like. Crime is a Trojan horse; it’s the gateway to pretty much any kind of dramatic story. Most are about secrets, lies and betrayal, extreme emotions and acts committed under stress, of passion, death and survival.
Real life murderers are often impossible to truly understand. Charles Manson didn’t wake up each morning thinking he was crazy. He woke up each morning thinking you’re crazy. So when someone commits a crime, it’s never their fault. It’s the victim’s fault. Or society’s fault. And the detective has to find a way through the maze to the solution.
There are so many different ways of telling a detective story. From the killer’s point of view to locked-room mysteries, the only thing that never really satisfies is if it turns out to be an accident or suicide. Detectives have always needed to have something memorable about themselves. Sherlock Holmes has his deductive powers, Miss Marple listened to village gossip. Arthur Bryant uses his age to get away with being extremely blunt, erratic and annoying.
Of course, most mysteries are a delightful confidence trick; when you look at them in the cold light of day the stories are utterly bonkers. My job is to make you care about my characters not just to keep you reading but to make you worry for them. Mr Bryant now gets fan mail. I created him to counteract the ageism I see all around me. When film studios think about optioning the series, they always ask me if I can make him younger. I think you can guess my reply.

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this post, Christopher. As a reader of the many types of murder mysteries I love the very different ways in which crime authors tell their stories. And I'm very glad that you've resisted requests to make Mr Bryant younger. I have teenage daughters and they enjoy watching characters of all ages; it's incredibly patronising to suggest only protagonists of a certain age will be popular with audiences.

Hall of Mirrors is published in the UK by Doubleday/Transworld and can be purchased from:
Amazon UK
or from your local independent bookshop!

Don't forget to check out the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Christopher Fowler is the author of more than forty novels (fifteen of which feature the detectives Bryant and May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit) and short story collections. The recipient of many awards, including the coveted CWA ‘Dagger in the Library’, Chris has also written screenplays, video games, graphic novels, audio plays and two critically accalimed memoirs, Paperboy and Film Freak. His most recent book is The Book of Forgotten Authors, drawn from his ‘Invisible Ink’ columns in the Independent on Sunday. Chris divides his time between London’s King Cross and Barcelona. Follow Christopher Fowler on Twitter @Peculiar