Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good Bait by John Harvey

Good Bait

I have a lot of time for John Harvey.

Harvey writes British police procedurals with a deep intelligence and special flair. He does it all—the characterizations, the humanity, the procedure, the mystery--and then throws in a little music, a little talk about literature, food, wine…man, I just love this stuff. He is another of those authors whose books I save until I want a surefire weekend read-a-thon going on.

Harvey is certainly the equal of Ian Rankin or Kate Atkinson, so if you like those popular authors, prepare for something special with Harvey. It looks like several of his books are being reissued this year or shortly thereafter. He has a couple of series, one that features main character Charlie Resnick and one with Frank Elder. These series don't go on forever, though we might like it if they did. Harvey takes time crafting his books and we never get "full."

Definitely check him out if you haven’t already. He’s been writing a long time, and like Rankin and Atkinson, he just gets better as he goes along. Best of all, he provides us his influences at the end of this book, giving us some insight into his creative process. Harvey praises Ladder of Angels by Brian Thompson as one of the finest crime novels in recent decades. I have never heard of this author, and my guess is you haven't either. I am pleased to get a recommendation from an author I admire.

This stand-alone novel follows two separate investigations in different parts of England which end up circling the same house: the house of a drug and sex trafficker. We follow both threads which rarely overlap, one investigation led by a thirty-something black female homicide investigator based in London, and one led by an old copper close to retirement, shunted to a quiet out-of-the-way Cornwall precinct to finish off his duties. We like these folks. They don’t have their perceptions skewed, just sharpened, by their line of work.

“Good Bait” is a jazz song, recorded many times by different artists. You might want to snag one (or several) of those recordings to prepare for settling down with this fine novel.

You can buy this book here: Shop Indie Bookstores

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