Cold in Hand by John Harvey

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Cold in Hand by John Harvey

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: After a decade away Resnick returns in a gripping, atmospheric story which looks at gun running, people trafficking and prostitution. The plot is complex but not convoluted and it's a superb read. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: January 2009
Publisher: Arrow Books Ltd
ISBN: 978-0099505648

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On Valentine's Day DI Lynn Kellogg intervened in a spat between two rival gangs in Nottingham. Perhaps she should have waited for backup as she is wounded, a girl has her face cut open and another is shot dead. The dead girl's family blame Kellogg, claiming that she used their daughter as a human shield and an officer from another force is brought in to conduct the subsequent enquiry. DI Charlie Resnick can't become too closely involved as he and Kellogg are now living together, but he's there on the edges, confusing the lines between personal and professional, with predictable results.

Meanwhile Lynn Kellogg is the chief investigating officer in a stalled murder case. One witness has been threatened and another has disappeared. When SOCA – the Serious and Organised Crime Agency – becomes involved on the basis that there might be links to people trafficking and gunrunning Kellogg's unease and suspicions mount.

With 'Last Rites' I was sure that John Harvey had published his last Resnick novel so it came as something of a surprise when I heard that a decade later he was to return in Cold in Hand. I always felt that Harvey had pensioned Resnick off before his time and that he'd lived in the shadow of Ian Rankin's Rebus despite the fact that the earlier novels are far more accomplished than the early Rebus novels. Harvey and Rankin are equally skillful but Rankin has perhaps had the edge when it came to promotion.

Those looking to see the old team, Resnick, Kellogg, Millington, Divine et al will be disappointed as this is essentially a story which revolves around Resnick and Kellogg and the others have moved on. They've a touching personal relationship and professional respect despite the fact that it's obvious that Resnick has reached his peak and is contemplating retirement whilst Kellogg has the potential to go much further. This is the tenth book in the series and there's a considerable shared past, but Cold in Hand is a stand alone novel and provides no spoilers for earlier books.

I was only a few chapters into the book when I was telling everyone that it was superb. It's atmospheric and gritty with an evocative picture of Nottingham. One of the reasons that Harvey stopped writing the Resnick novels was that he no longer lived in the city and he felt that his depiction of it would lack immediacy, but that concern doesn't seem to have been borne out. I was totally gripped and that was before something happened which was so totally unexpected, so shocking that I couldn't put the book down. The plot is superb - complex but not convoluted - and I hadn't spotted how it would work out.

This book is quite simply excellent. It's as good as Rankin at his best and if anyone deserves to take over Rankin's crown it should be Harvey, although it must be debatable whether that will be with Resnick.

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

You might also enjoy The Greater Thief by Alexandra Carey.

John Harvey's Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick Novels in Chronological Order

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Booklists.jpg Cold in Hand by John Harvey is in the Top Ten Crime Novels.


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