Heinemann, £14.99. Order for £13.49 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 0870 079 8897
Far Cry, By John Harvey
Thursday 02 July 2009
There's evidence of a high-risk trend in British crime writing. Perhaps aware that readers are wearying of burnt-out, alcoholic or damaged detectives, writers such as Laura Wilson have made their heroes relatively untroubled: family men, non-addictive personalities, not at loggerheads with superiors. This more quotidian copper also sports fewer tics (possibly remembering Agatha Christie, who regretted saddling Poirot with eccentric habits).
The most recent adopter of this hazardous tactic (such restraint might render the protagonist bland) is the ever-reliable John Harvey. Far Cry is, amazingly, Harvey's 100th book (although the tally does include a novelisation of Herbie Rides Again), and he has again demonstrated his expertise at delivering a masterfully-wrought crime narrative.
The detective here is closer to Harvey's retired policeman Frank Elder than his jazz-loving Charlie Resnick. DI Will Grayson is not socially maladjusted, has two kids, a happy marriage and a slightly uneasy relationship with his partner DS Helen Walker, whose affairs he resents – either in the manner of an over-protective father, or brimming with repressed sexual jealousy.
Harvey forges a seamless union between his narrative and some cogent aperçus about British society. In Far Cry, one of his subjects is the rights of the individual. Ruth Pierce and her husband's lives are shattered by the disappearance of their daughter, which destroys their marriage. Ruth marries again, but the unthinkable happens when history repeats itself with a second daughter.
Grayson becomes grimly fixated on a released paedophile, who loiters around schools. Both Will and Walker find themselves in a morass that sorely tests them both. What price the rights of suspects when the safety of children is at stake? How much latitude should parents allow their offspring? And how does one survive the abduction and sexual abuse of a child? That Harvey can deal with such weighty issues responsibly within a page-turning crime entertainment is a measure of his mastery.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Rashida Jones speaks out against male-centric porn saying 'women should have sex and feel good about it'
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Sia apologises for 'Elastic Heart' music video that sees Shia LaBeouf wrestle 12-year-old Maddie Ziegler
25 years of Disney: How Darth Vader, Iron Man, Elsa and Pixar's geniuses helped the company conquer the world (again)
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account