Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cold In Hand

John Harvey

Cold In Hand

William Heinemann, 2008

Charlie Resnick, an aging cop and hero of numerous novels of John Harvey, lives with a young woman Lynn Kellogg, also a detective, and is preparing to retire. On Valentine's Day the youth gangs dispute, and Kellogg is trying to prevent it. As a result, one girl is killed, another wounded, and Kellogg, which used the body of a murdered girl as a shield, receives minor injuries. Resnick persuade the authorities to allow him to investigate this incident with a partner. The father of the killed girl makes explicit threats to Resnick and Kellogg, believing she’s guilty in his daughter's death. When Kellogg recovers from an injury, she returnes to the stalled case, involving the illegal gunrunning and human trafficking from Eastern Europe. Witnesses in this case, two women who worked as prostitutes, fear for their lives, and Kellogg begins to suspect the connection between a police officer from the department of serious crimes and the Eastern European mafia. Resnick is busy with his investigation and does not yet know what a nightmare his life will soon become to.

Crime novels in the genre of "police procedurals" can rarely boast of originality and freshness. Their structure itself is so well established that you do not need to invent anything, everything has already been invented, you need only one cliche replace by another. Most often, the inspector in years drinks heavily and walks on the women, while investigating for weeks one and the same thing as if the criminals in this period generally disappear from the face of the earth and do not commit crimes that are actually also need to investigate. And it’s good, if the author has come up with an original twist in the ending or can write well in his/her native language, then so a book can deserve some attention. So «Cold In Hand» by John Harvey is an outstanding police procedural for several reasons. For once, there are two detectives, but they do not work together. Resnick does not drink heavily or sleep with anyone, but listens to jazz and takes care of his partner. Here are a few crimes, and the inspectors have to cope with several things simultaneously.

Harvey also gives an idea of how the police work in Britain: how departments interplay between themselves, how internal investigations are conducted, how the security of important witnesses is provided. Yes, all of these are the technical details, the theory, but the author knows practice too. Knows how win over a reader, knows how to surprise with an unexpected clue in the end, knows how to deploy a novel half-way and return it in a different direction.

«Cold In Hand» definitely shows that it’s early to give up on police procedurals.

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