A Christmas kidnapping puts British detective Charlie Resnick in the hot seat. “Cold Light is just about flawless” (The Washington Post Book World).
Working at the Nottingham public housing authority is miserable, but Nancy Phelan knows that the tenants she services are worse off than her. Consider Gary James, whose family Nancy recently assigned to a new council flat. He’s got two children, no work, and no heat. As Christmas approaches and his children shiver, he vents his rage at Nancy. After a two-hour wait, he smashes a chair to get her attention, then locks them both in her office. Police inspector Charlie Resnick breaks down the door before he has a chance to hurt her. But hours later, at the office Christmas party, Nancy disappears. Although Gary James is the logical suspect, when the kidnapper starts sending the police department tapes, Resnick fears that the New Year may herald a psychopath.
Harvey's sixth industrial-strength procedural featuring Nottingham copper Charlie Resnick is built of small, delicate images: a young mother warms her hands before touching her sleeping baby in a stone-cold council house; Resnick, foraging in his fridge for the makings of a sandwich, wistfully glances at the face of Billie Holliday on the front of a boxed set of CDs he has just bought himself for Christmas, though he has yet to purchase a CD player. When Nancy Phelan, a social worker, goes missing after a holiday dance, the divorced Resnick meets Dana, her flatmate, and escapes his self-imposed isolation for a brief passionate moment. Nancy's most recent lover is a likely suspect, but the case against him falters and Resnick falls into depression. A number of city cab drivers are robbed and beaten; the cops are looking for someone with a dragon tattoo and very fair hair. The elderly father of a woman cop falls ill; a killer strikes and then takes another victim ; Resnick lets the affair with Dana self-destruct through fear and forgetfulness. Harvey, a poet in thin disguise, constructs his plot masterfully, meting out surprises in subplots that reach their conclusions with sudden, unsynchronous credibility.