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When a young woman is found dead in the pews of St. Bride’s Church—alone and showing no apparent signs of trauma—Arthur Bryant assumes this case will go to the Peculiar Crimes Unit, an eccentric team tasked with solving London’s most puzzling murders. Yet the city police take over the investigation, and the PCU is given an even more baffling and bewitching assignment.
Called into headquarters by Oskar Kasavian, the head of Home Office security, Bryant and May are shocked to hear that their longtime adversary now desperately needs their help. Oskar’s wife, Sabira, has been acting strangely for weeks—succumbing to violent mood swings, claiming an evil presence is bringing her harm—and Oskar wants the PCU to find out why. And if there’s any duo that can deduce the method behind her madness, it’s the indomitable Bryant and May.
When a second bizarre death reveals a surprising link between the two women’s cases, Bryant and May set off on a trail of clues from the notorious Bedlam hospital to historic Bletchley Park. And as they are drawn into a world of encrypted codes and symbols, concealed rooms and high-society clubs, they must work quickly to catch a killer who lurks even closer than they think.
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Review by Travis Starnes
The Invisible Code is a classic detective style mystery turned on its head by the addition of the mystic and the supernatural, but not really.
I will start by saying the overall core mystery in this book isn’t bad. It has some interesting twists to it, although the “ah-ha” moment where the facts are reveled do not stand up to scrutiny of the original passages of past events. When the “real” way an event in the book went down is revealed, it in really doesn’t resemble what the reader actually experienced. That however isn’t too big of detraction since that is not so unusual in mystery books and it is the journey and not the re-read that is the real test of a book.
My big issue with this book is the detectives specialize in puzzling murders and during the investigation put up all sorts of red herrings around mysticism and secret orders, none of which were true or even paid off. All that bouncing around religious or occult clues could have been cut out and allowed the book to deliver a much less muddied story. That kind of thing works in books where there really is some secrete order or mystic explanation but falls very flat when it’s just in the book for obfuscation.
The other issue I had with the book may just be because I am not familiar with the series. There are a lot of characters who are quickly introduced and very similar to one another. I had an issue with the characters all running together, and there were times I was really not sure who the book was dealing with. Again I can’t tell if this is an issue with my being unfamiliar with an ongoing series or too many characters without enough individuality.
If you take out the issue with indistinguishable characters and glut of red herrings, then this is a well-paced and suspenseful mystery. This is one of those times where I can feel a really top notch book that has been buried over by other elements that it could have done without.
Still, if you are looking for a mystery this will keep you interested and there are worse options on the shelf.