Friday, March 10, 2023

Christopher Fowler


In space no one can hear you scream. Because I’m old and cynical there are very few authors that I get really excited when a new book comes out. And one of those authors was Christopher Fowler who passed away last week. He had been suffering from a very rare form of cancer for 2 years or so and was trying an experimental treatment as that’s all that was really on offer. Maybe that treatment gave us another book, another short story to a collection. He was certainly writing right up to the end.

In his youth he ran a company that marketing movies. And he was one of those that coined the phrase 'in space no one can hear you scream'. Ridley Scott had put in front of him a picture of an egg and said 'It's very scary.' That’s all the marketing agencies had to go on so a few folk came up with the hookline.


Of all Christopher's work, and there is a lot as he was a prolific writer and blogger, my favourite by far are the Bryant and May series, 20 books long. They feature two detectives, both in their eighties who started working together at the Peculiar Crimes unit in London during the second world war. The unit was designed to investigate crimes that could have an effect on the morale of the nation. Arthur Bryant is a grumpy bad tempered old git who abuses mobile phones terribly. John May eighties is still tall, well dressed with a charismatic twinkle in his eye. So they are known as Bryant and May, the perfect match.

The books a clever, funny and unlike anything else. Christopher always has a good, insulting turn of phrase, something about a face like a  overboiled cabbage, or something like that.

Christopher’s one of those rare people in life who no one has a bad word to say about. I’ve maybe spoken to him 2 or 3 times, but the best discussion was definitely about Arthur Bryant running the country and what a job he’d make of it. There’s all kinds of fabulous stories to be found about Christopher Fowler including one about him organising a human chain to move the books of a library to a save place. The library was about to be bombed and all the books were placed safely underground. He is much better with words than I could ever be so here’s his final blog. I think the last line of it gives you an idea of the man.


"It was when I realised I could not handle short staircases that my future became apparent. My muscles had wasted away. I suddenly looked like my grandfather. Physical deterioration, accompanied by mental fog. As the illness increased its invasive speed I could no longer keep my head clear enough to work. I needed the time I had left to try and finish a short story, but even that is now in danger of remaining unfinished. Arabic architects are supposed to leave a corner of their work unfinished for Allah.

I had a book I had taken from a hotel. Bookworms had left curlicues through its pages, adding to its beauty. Below, a bookworm cast earlier today.

There is something magical about an unopened novel. There are all those shelves filled with luscious unread books…and now I can’t even reach them.

So this is my last post. The blog will remain but be dormant. In the meantime I’m planning to leave thousands of blog pieces and let the the books speak for themselves.

A Book Is A Living Object

Its life can be be infinitely extended or strangled at birth.

It may start lifelong love affairs or wars.

It may simply fail to to ignite with wealthy members of the public and penniless poets alike.

It is a weapon and a companion. Once the words are written down they become real.

The blog is ephemeral, like most newspaper articles. Books are not, because they are physical artefacts. That’s my two-penneth, and now it’s spenteth.

Hard To Write

It’s very hard to write now without falling asleep or forgetting what I was going to say. If there’s something I really need to get out I’ll put it on Twitter. So you might want to check your old  @peculiar feed once in a while. All fun things have to come to an end. I love you all. Except for that horrible old troll – are there any other kind?

There, now you have a smidgen of extra time on your hands, go have fun.

…and read a book.


Thank you for all your words over the years Christopher,

Sleep well



  1. Caro, I couldn't agree more with his final line. Words to live by. Thank you for the introduction.

  2. Lovely tribute. I hadn't heard of his work, but your post makes me want to look up some of his books.