A Darker Shade of Blue by John Harvey

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A Darker Shade of Blue by John Harvey

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A collection of eighteen short stories, many of which feature some old friends and fill in some of the gaps which occur between the full-length novels, Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: June 2010
Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0099548232

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There are eighteen short stories covering the East Midlands, those parts of London you'd generally really rather avoid and rural East Anglia. You'll see broken families, revenge killings, prostitution and drugs. There's corruption – not unusual when you have an overstretched police force and underpaid men and women staffing it. And then there are the people who, in spite of everything, fight for justice.

You'll meet some old friends too. Charlie Resnick is perhaps Harvey's most famous creation and he's here along with Lynn Kellogg and some of his old team in four stories. You might have met Frank Elder before, but if not you'll enjoy making his acquaintance. He's the man who tried to turn his back on police work but found that he couldn't. Eight of the stories feature Jack Kiley, the London-based PI. He's an ex-policeman and, for a short time, a professional footballer. One story features Kiley and Resnick. I'd like to see more of Kiley but he's never appeared in a full-length novel and Harvey suggests that he never will.

All the stories have been written since 1999 and they fill in some of the gaps in the on-going stories presented in the novels. It doesn't matter if you haven't read the novels though – the stories all work well as stand-alones. It's just a bonus if you have. One point which might be worth looking out for is that all of the stories seem to have been published elsewhere, but sometimes in relatively obscure publications. You'd be remarkably unlucky to have read all of them before, but it is worth checking.

I'm rarely a fan of short stories, preferring something I get my teeth into and absorb over the course of a book. A Darker Shade of Blue is an exception. Short stories are ones which, of necessity, need little introduction and scene setting and certainly don't rely on subtle characterisation. To begin with Harvey has the talent for using the few perfect words which create flesh and blood, atmosphere and place. Much of what you understand you will find you did not read, but merely saw in your mind's eye. The skill reminds me of Ian Rankin, but I think Harvey is better with the short story.

With most collections of short stories I find that I put the book down after finishing a story and somehow fail to gravitate back to it, but this time I had the opposite problem. There was always the temptation to read just one more story, to find out a little more about what's been happening to a particular character and it was with some sadness that I turned the final page.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you haven't yet met Charlie Resnick in a full-length novel, make certain that you do.

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Buy A Darker Shade of Blue by John Harvey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Darker Shade of Blue by John Harvey at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy A Darker Shade of Blue by John Harvey at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Darker Shade of Blue by John Harvey at Amazon.com.


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