William Heinemann, 2008
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith
Crime fiction, thriller
Detective Inspector Lynn Kellogg is on her way home from a hostage
negotiation when she sees a crowd of youths gathered in a rough circle
that spreads out across the street. After quickly calling into Control to
request backup, Lynn runs towards the crowd. She intervenes in a knife
fight between two girls, and, as she stops the fight, someone from the
retreating crowd fires two shots. The first shot strikes Lynn in the
chest, and the second takes one of the girls in the neck. Because Lynn is
still wearing her flak jacket from the earlier incident she is only
bruised, but the girl dies.
DI Lynn Kellogg is DI Charlie Resnick's live-in partner. Resnick is close
to retirement. Despite a possible conflict of interest, Detective
Superintendent Bill Berry chooses Resnick as his "bagman", second in
command, in the investigation into the shooting. Feelings in the community
are running high, especially as the dead girl's father is saying that Lynn
used his daughter as a human shield.
Lynn Kellogg has been heading another investigation: that of the murder of
one of the girls in a sauna and massage parlour in one of the older and
seedier streets of Nottingham. Most of the female workers and the owner
are from Eastern Europe. One of the girls agrees to give evidence, but as
the Nottingham police put their case together, it appears there may be
connections with international gunrunning and people trafficking. SOCA -
the Serious and Organised Crime Agency - takes an interest, and that's
when things begin to go wrong.
In retrospect, the thing that strikes you about DEAD IN HAND is how
meticulously it is constructed. Although this is the 11th title in the
Resnick series, it is the first for ten years. More recently Resnick has
made cameo appearances in Harvey's Frank Elder series, mainly as mentor to
Frank who has already retired. In the ten years that have elapsed since
the publication of LAST RIGHTS (1998), a lot has happened in the life of
Charlie Resnick, and so Harvey has almost a blank canvas to deal with.
Whatever most of us knew about Charlie Resnick, assuming we followed the
first ten books, we have forgotten, and so Harvey builds for us a broad
canvas: not just the current cases that Charlie and Lynn are involved in,
but the development of their relationship, and how Charlie is feeling
about the prospect of retirement. Under the broad brush strokes are
detailed scenarios, lending a sense of real authenticity. An interesting
thing about Harvey's revival of Resnick is that it is something for which
his readers have been clamouring some time, but you don't feel that you
should have read the books in order.
COLD IN HAND is divided into two parts, and at the very beginning of Part
Two we meet a character whom I hope we will see more of in the future:
Detective Chief Inspector Karen Shields, six foot tall, unmistakeably of
Jamaican background. She is an excellent example of Harvey's ability to
show us the new face of policing in Britain, the perfect foil to Resnick
who really represents what policing used to be. More than one policeman in
COLD IN HAND is worried by what is happening on the city streets. The
picture that Harvey creates is gloomy.
John Harvey is a prolific writer. Before crime fiction he wrote both
westerns and pulp fiction. Among his pseudonyms: Jon Barton, William S
Brady (with Angus Wells), L J Coburn (with Laurence James), J B Dancer
(with Angus Wells), John B Harvey, William M James (with Terry Harknett
and Laurence James), Terry Lennox, John J McLaglen (with Laurence James),
James Mann, Thom Ryder, J D Sandon (with Angus Wells).
In 2004 Harvey won a Silver Dagger for Best Novel for FLESH AND BLOOD and
in 2007 a Diamond Dagger 'lifetime achievement' award. In October 2008 he
will be International Guest of Honor at Bouchercon 2008.
September 2008 review originally published at Murder and Mayhem
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