Books by Bill James

Anyone who follows baseball has been influenced by the contributions of sportswriter and historian Bill James. The writer’s classic The Bill James Baseball Abstract has been credited with major innovations in the field of statistical analysis. In his new book, James turns his considerable analytical abilities to an entirely different field of study with Popular Crime: Reflections on the Celebration of Violence. Photo credit: Crystal Image Photography


NOOSE by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Dec. 1, 2013

"The unusual plot thickens and darkens but never comes to a full head of steam."
The creator of Harpur and Iles (Play Dead, 2013, etc.) uses the attempted 1956 suicide of a British starlet to unleash a flood of baleful memories for the journalist tasked with writing an article about her. Read full book review >
PLAY DEAD by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 1, 2013

"In their 30th outing, Harpur and Iles are still at odds, still droll and still among the best the British police procedural has to offer."
Harpur and Iles reopen a closed case. Read full book review >
UNDERCOVER by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Oct. 1, 2012

"Nobody demonstrates the similarity between criminal reasoning and cop reasoning better than James (Vacuum, 2011, etc.)."
The 29th appearance of Harpur and Iles, Britain's most irresistible duo since crumpets were first paired with tea. Read full book review >
VACUUM by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Dec. 1, 2011

"A noir farce that's just as wickedly funny as most of the 27 other Harpur and Iles escapades—compelling evidence that James is long overdue for a major award."
What happens when the status quo goes belly up? Read full book review >
WORLD WAR TWO WILL NOT TAKE PLACE by Bill James
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: June 1, 2011

"James, who can out-mean the noir-est of the bunch (the Harpur & Iles series), turns puckish here. He has a field day with the psychology of spycraft, from refusing to give a direct answer to a simple question to tailing one's shadow to turning second-guessing into an art form."
King Edward VIII invites Hitler to Britain. Read full book review >
POPULAR CRIME by Bill James
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: May 3, 2011

"Certain to engender controversy in the law-enforcement realm, as James has previously done in the world of baseball, where his seemingly revolutionary notions are now accepted by some members of the establishment."
An offbeat, sweeping examination of true crime in America (and occasionally other nations). Read full book review >
FULL OF MONEY by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Dec. 1, 2009

"No slyer, wickeder plotter exists than James (Off-Street Parking, 2009, etc.), who manages to be at once droll and nasty."
London turf wars done to a turn. Read full book review >
OFF-STREET PARKING by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: March 1, 2009

"A fine follow-up to Letters from Carthage (2007), with the usual Jamesian touches of wit, irony and misdirection, plus wickedly elliptical dialogue that raises to an art form the tactic of answering a question with another question."
Would a wife have the nerve to park her dead husband in the family car in their own driveway? Read full book review >
LETTERS FROM CARTHAGE by Bill James
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2007

A dark salute to the dying art of letter-writing. Read full book review >
WOLVES OF MEMORY by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: July 3, 2006

"James (The Girl with the Long Back, 2004, etc.) has never been feistier or trickier. Fans of police noir, and the human comedy, will be well served."
A mordantly funny 22nd go-round for Harpur and Iles and London's less-than-master criminals. Read full book review >
BETWEEN LIVES by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: March 1, 2004

"James, author of the gritty Harpur and Iles series (The Girl with the Long Back, see below, etc.), effectively infiltrates the territory of Graham Greene's The Third Man, making you think twice about sending your kids to college—or acquiescing to your wife's headstrong ways. "
What drives a man to suicide? Or to murder? Read full book review >
THE GIRL WITH THE LONG BACK by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: March 1, 2004

"A manner as stylized as Restoration comedy sacrifices momentum to ritual, making every delectable conversation a set piece worth the price of admission. "
Rumors of Chief Constable Mark Lane's promotion to Inspector of Constabulary sets the stage for another round of James's patented cutthroat capitalism. Read full book review >
NAKED AT THE WINDOW by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Dec. 1, 2002

"Endlessly cynical, yet with their own inviolate sense of integrity, Harpur & Iles are as various as Tony Soprano."
"Various" is what Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles says people are. Read full book review >
SPLIT by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: March 25, 2002

"Abelard, cut from the same quavery, honorable cloth as Harpur, is a keeper."
Sidelining lawmen Harpur and Iles (Pay Days, 2001, etc.) for the moment, James blisters the pages with in-fighting among the British spy brethren. Read full book review >
PAY DAYS by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Sept. 1, 2001

"You'll need a scorecard to tally up the changing alliances—and you'll need to keep your head down to avoid the ubiquitous bullet."
The Elmore Leonard of Britain's underworld has himself a doozy of a plot this time. Read full book review >
DOUBLE JEOPARDY by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 1, 2001

"Like the author's Harpur and Iles series (Panicking Ralph, 2001, etc.), a tour de force of irony, with no motive taken at face value and no one, however well-placed, left unscathed."
As Detective Sergeant Kerry Lake listens, her lover, lowly police officer Vic Othen, stonewalls the Inquiry lawyer questioning him about police malfeasance in the racially charged Scout Pethor/Matthew Gain case, in which the two white men were acquitted of murdering Angela Sabat, a black American visiting England. Read full book review >
PANICKING RALPH by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 1, 2001

"Like most James novels (Kill Me, 1999, etc.), a moral dust-up, with bad men landing on their feet, good ones sliding into crime, and young girls like Harpur's teenaged lover Denise acting as the fulcrum."
When drug kingpin Oliphant Kenward Knapp is murdered, his rivals briefly lie dormant, then start circling, usurping his turf, his couriers, his suppliers. Read full book review >
KILL ME by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 1, 2000

"To be read with your back firmly resting against the wall."
If Eton Crop (1999) was the slack-paced setup, this is the payoff come to a rolling boil and served up with James's strident sense of drama. Read full book review >
ETON CROP by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Nov. 1, 1999

"Likewise, unfortunately, Harpur and Iles."
Poor Constable Naomi Anstruther. Read full book review >
LOVELY MOVER by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: June 1, 1999

"Only the full series can do that."
When she seems to be looking toward an alternative supplier from London, Keith Vine regretfully murders Eleri Vaughan, the aging drug pusher he's got working aboard a ship-turned-restaurant, but then he insists on doing his level best for her corpse. Read full book review >
TOP BANANA by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 1, 1999

"For sheer nasty brilliance, this trenchant summary of his series is worthy to stand alongside Conrad's The Secret Agent."
Now that Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur's wife has been murdered (Roses, Roses, 1998) and his affair with his boss Desmond Iles's wife Sarah has slowed to the occasional bit of slap and tickle, it's time for the younger generation to have their moment in the sun. Read full book review >
ROSES, ROSES by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

"Pitch-black antiheroics, even for James celebrated anti-procedural series."
Just when you think James has already cut to the core of his superbly rotten British coppers, he pares off another slice to show you the really festering mess beneath. Read full book review >
GOSPEL by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: April 1, 1997

"Lamb's gospel of principles—he feeds information only where there's the risk of violence to bystanders, or where he has a personal grudge against the planners—is the perfect focus for this ninth installment in James's heartlessly funny series."
 ``Thou shalt not overlap'' is the unofficial commandment of the CID, but Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur (Astride a Grave, 1996, etc.), continuing to flout the rules, has fallen out of lust with Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles's wife Sarah only to take up with Denise Prior, a first-year university student whose friend Helen Surtees is the live-in companion to Jack Lamb, Harpur's most venerable informant. Read full book review >
ASTRIDE A GRAVE by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 10, 1996

"As in James's seven other darkly comic procedurals: so many blandly sordid revelations about the coppers, this time enlivened with much coupling in Volvos and Ember's peerlessly middle-class thuggery, that you just have to laugh."
 The antic, murderous gang who took that Exeter bank for ú1.8 million (Club, 1995) are at it again. ``Caring'' Oliver Leach, the brains of the operation, is rumored to have taken off to the Continent with a good bit more than his share of the loot, so some freelancers who know about the job kidnap his daughter on spec. Read full book review >
CLUB by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 12, 1995

"The menace is more muted and the plotting less inevitable than in Take (1994), but James's ear for the class distinctions that motivate and doom his luckless cast is still the best in the business."
 Lucky Ian Aston skates on the robbery charges that dragged down his mates, so he's free to get beaten to death on a garbage dump a few months later. Read full book review >
THE POLITICS OF GLORY by Bill James
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: May 1, 1994

"Another home run from baseball's most interesting iconoclast, guaranteed to fuel the kind of good-natured arguments that make baseball our most intellectually provocative sport."
 Baseball maven James (The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, 1986) offers a witty, contentious examination of the Hall of Fame, covering its history and politics with typically incisive and outspoken commentary on who is in the Hall and who should be. Read full book review >
TAKE by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 1, 1994

"Brrr."
 It's getting so you can't tell James's cops from his robbers without a scorecard. Read full book review >
COME CLEAN by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Feb. 14, 1993

"With a little more promotional zeal, James could enjoy a wide, devoted readership."
 Fifth in the gritty procedural series featuring criminal investigation chief Colin Harpur (Protection, 1992, etc.). Read full book review >
PROTECTION by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Aug. 28, 1992

"Plus: a clever, if gloomy, spin on protecting one's mates."
 Detective Superintendent Colin Harpur (Halo Parade, The Lolita Man, etc.) is again enmeshed in departmental politics: this time out, he discovers that if he wants to protect one of his snitches- -as well as a just-retired on-the-take pal from the force—he may have to endanger the life of gangster ``Tenderness'' Mellick's slow-witted young son, who was kidnapped by rival gang members. Read full book review >
HALO PARADE by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: Jan. 17, 1992

"A dark, dour study of good men with sour edges."
 The third cynical police procedural featuring Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur (Lolita Man, p. 507) finds him disconsolate: his mistress, the widow of a fellow officer, has recently married another cop; and Ray Street, the young lad whom Colin sent undercover to infiltrate druglord ``You-know-who'' and his gang, is now also snorting up and recklessly endangering himself. Read full book review >
THE LOLITA MAN by Bill James
MYSTERY & CRIME
Released: May 3, 1991

"So-so plotting, but realistically drawn Harpur is Wambaugh tough, sharp, and keen."
 Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur (You'd Better Believe It, 1986) searches for the rapist/killer of five young girls while he and his wife carry on separate affairs (``I hate liberated marriages,'' says one of his too-cynical daughters), and while division chiefs feud over jurisdiction, media credit, and bureaucracy perks. Read full book review >