A detective’s dark past meets his violent present in “[a] rich tapestry that lifts the police procedural into the realm of the mainstream novel” (Sue Grafton).
It starts with five professional thieves. At their first robbery, they press a sawed-off shotgun against a bank manager’s head, and leave with nearly forty thousand pounds. They repeat the trick three times, raking in nearly half a million in cash. They have yet to kill, but with each raid they come closer to taking their bounty in blood. The Nottingham police department charges the brilliant but troubled Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick with stopping the crime spree. When the robberies turn violent, he can no longer deny their similarity to a long-buried incident from ten years ago, when a confrontation with a sociopathic killer nearly cost him his life. To halt this chilling crime wave, he must reopen a case he has spent a decade trying to forget.
This exacting examination of English urban life masquerading as police procedural owes much to the bruising kitchen-sink dramas of the 1950s by Alan Sillitoe, Keith Waterhouse et al. In his fifth appearance (after Off Minor ), the divorced, cat-loving, jazz-addicted inspector Charlie Resnick continues to trudge through the cold streets of an England adrift in celluloid-induced violence and American-style fast food (bastardized as only the cuisine-cursed British are capable of). A series of violent armed robberies are being committed in Nottingham by two groups. One team is clever; their counterparts are clearly a couple of teenaged yobs--one terrified and the other memorably vicious--who are rapidly becoming both more professional and more deadly. All this coincides with the early parole of another criminal anxious to settle a score with his informant wife and the cop she slept with. For his part, Charlie drifts back through the years, recalling the events leading up to his own marriage and its gradual dissolution in an unspoken, uneventful mist. By now Harvey's economy of prose is a given, as is his ability to pull together the many composite parts--the interlocking crimes, the boozing, infidelity and Resnick's very human bunch of underlings--that make a Charlie Resnick mystery such satisfying reading. No wasted time here.