White Corridor by Christopher Fowler


White Corridor

It’s always a gamble to pick up books by unknown authors. And I seem to do a bad job of it at Christmas every year. Each year we spend some time in the car, so we grab audio books. This year’s selection was a mixed bag of known authors and unknown authors. We listened to this title and it was definitely a mixed bag.

The story revolves around two older gentlemen who run a Peculiar Crimes Unit in London. They are quirky, cranky, and odd. Which of course makes them fun. They can get away saying and doing things that a younger detective would be fired over. In this story, the two detectives are stranded out in a snow storm miles from anywhere with a killer, the killer’s intended victim, and plenty of innocent people. A blizzard trapped many cars on a busy bypass through the English countryside in subzero temperatures. This situation becomes a race for personal survival in the cold and an effort to rescue the victim from killer.

Meanwhile, back at the PCU, their staff has a mystery on its hands that could eventually give their political enemies the leverage to shut them down. The two older detectives attempt to help solve that crime as well using their cell phones while stranded out in the cold.

All in all, it makes for a great setup. There are a few downsides to the book though. First, two of the characters have an affair. (I have no idea how descriptive it was as I skipped it.) The author uses this as a plot device as the girl believes she is now psychically bonded to the man.

Update: From the author’s comments below: “My romantic scenes are chaste; imagination is better.”

Second, there is profanity in the book. Third, the author is very anti-God and anti-religion. The lead spends much of his time supporting, encouraging, and getting assistance from witches, warlocks, and all sorts of cultic groups. (They were traveling to a cultist convention when they were stranded.)

I can ignore the cultist things. What I have less trouble accepting is the affair and the language.

I did find one other thing disturbing. Despite the modern setting, so much of the described English life could have been pulled right from an Agatha Christie novel that I found the modern technology jolting. It’s not the author’s fault; most of my experience with English detectives come from Christie and books set in the early to mid 20th century. So, I often dropped back into that mental picture until a cell phone appeared again. Whoops….

Have you ever had that experience?

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2 thoughts on “White Corridor by Christopher Fowler

  1. Dear Matt,
    Thank you for the review.
    Perhaps I should address your points.
    I never use swearing in my books, not because I don’t approve but because it’s lazy writing. My romantic scenes are chaste; imagination is better.
    Like most Englishmen I am aware that the English countryside has changed little since the days of Agatha Christie.
    Like most English also, I tend to be a Liberal, as our society is a strong mix of different races and faiths, and I respect them. Finally, very few of us (less than 30%) still believe in biblical deities. Like most English, I have a strongly developed sense of humour, and regard the world through this prism. My books are best approached with this sense of humour, and a loving liberal attitude.
    In the UK we have a strong attachment to America, and hope you soon get the healthcare reforms which will give all an equal right to good health and happiness.
    With best wishes,
    Christopher Fowler

  2. Welcome. I always enjoy it when an author shows up and comments. I hope I was fair….

    I’ve updated the blog to address your comments about the affair.

    My memory could be fuzzy, but I also suspect our definition of swearing might be different. I appreciate your recognition that swearing is lazy. I’d agree. Swearing usually reveals a simple mind.

    I find it interesting how different the English countryside is to the US countryside. In the US, you can guess the decade a photo is taken or a book written by the description of the countryside. In England, its much harder. Your countryside has changed so little. I’m not certain that either is good or bad, just different.

    Sadly, I do recognize that your fellow countrymen have rejected God. I wish it weren’t so. Still, I can look beyond that point, but not all of this site’s audience can so I need to mention it for them. As reviewers, we recognize that different people are bothered by different things. So, we try to write our reviews so that people may use discernment in selecting books. What offends one does not offend others, therefore we try to lay out the facts so that people can make informed choices.

    Yes, you have a strong sense of humor and I love it. US authors seldom cause laughter in me; British authors are a different story.

    Matt Gardenghi

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