Books by John Harvey

John Harvey is the author of the richly praised Charlie Resnick novels, the first of which, Lonely Hearts, was named by the Times (London) as one of the 100 Best Crime Novels of the Century. His novels featuring Frank Elder include Flesh & Blood, which w

Released: Sept. 15, 2014

"As Resnick revisits one of Britain's most painful events, he wrestles mightily with his own grief over the death of his girlfriend and struggles with the inevitability of his finite time as a detective."
In his last case, former DI Charlie Resnick revisits a mystery from his own past in Harvey's moving and moody 12th series installment. Read full book review >
GOOD BAIT by John Harvey
Released: Jan. 9, 2013

"The remarkable output of Harvey, whose 100-plus titles (Far Cry, 2010, etc.) have earned him the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger Award, represents the best of British crime writing."
Forget what you had planned for today; the new Harvey comes first. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 15, 2012

"Is there a better short-story writer around than Harvey? Probably not. His introduction not only provides a fine overview of his work but may send readers in search of James Crumley's output. "
A collection of 18 previously published short stories—and, yes, Charlie Resnick fans, he turns up in five of them. Read full book review >
COLD IN HAND by John Harvey
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

"Harvey is widely acknowledged as an expert at grit, police politics and the noir rumblings that crisscross Nottingham. But who knew he had such a fine ear for the nuances of grief? If you can read this without crying, you have no heart."
A welcome return for Nottingham Inspector Charlie Resnick, who's been absent from novel-length crime-fighting since Last Rites (1999). Read full book review >
GONE TO GROUND by John Harvey
Released: Feb. 1, 2008

"If anyone deserves to nudge Ian Rankin from his post as Britain's bestselling crime writer, it's Harvey (Darkness & Light, 2006, etc.). Reginald Hill explains it best: If he gets any better, the rest of us may have to kill him."
The triumphant creator of Charlie Resnick and Frank Elder introduces a new crime-stopping duo. Read full book review >
Released: July 3, 2006

"Yes, Charlie Resnick makes a cameo appearance, but Frank (Ash & Bone, 2005, etc.), with his guilt, his regrets, his worrisome relationships with his wife and daughter, is surely developing his own fan base and giving both Charlie and John Rebus a run for their money."
A favor for his ex takes retired cop Frank Elder from Cornwall to Nottingham. Read full book review >
FLESH AND BLOOD by John Harvey
Released: July 1, 2004

"Fans who thought they'd never forgive Harvey (In a True Light, 2002, etc.) for abandoning series character Charlie Resnick may be placated by his cameo appearance here. More important, they'll find the lovelorn Elder a hero to root for. "
Britain's second-best cop chronicler (following Ian Rankin) introduces a Nottinghamshire detective inspector whose retirement to Penzance has done nothing to lift his nightmares. Read full book review >
IN A TRUE LIGHT by John Harvey
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

"Except for the forgivably formulaic windup, a lovely, jazzy noir Tale of Two Cities."
Sloane has always traveled so light he doesn't even need a first name. As a gifted young painter, he drifted through the art worlds of London and New York without ever seeing his star rise; agreeing to suave gallery owner Robert Parsons's proposal that he paint a few canvases to be signed with more famous names, he did fine work and also did two years in prison without ratting Parsons out. But the tempera hits the fan with the news that Jane Graham, the older, once-famous American painter with whom Sloane had an affair 40 years ago, is dying in Pisa, and that the deathbed revelation she wants to make to him is that her daughter Connie is his daughter too. Will Sloane track down the estranged lounge singer and make peace among all three of them? Of course he will, if Connie survives her reunion with her own former mentor, sharp-dealing Manhattan club owner Vincent Delaney, whose last disagreement with a singer left her dead. Charlie Resnick chronicler Harvey (Now's the Time, 1999, etc.) does a beautiful job in evoking the New York still alive with echoes of Sloane's magical year with Jane. But he's less convincing when he turns from asking how Sloane—with or without the help of the two NYPD detectives getting on Delaney's case—will succeed in separating Connie from her baleful protector than in suggesting what kind of future the unlikely father-daughter duo will have. Read full book review >
NOW'S THE TIME by John Harvey
Released: Sept. 6, 1999

paper 1-871033-53-5 Fans mourning the news that Last Rites (p. 414) is the last of Harvey's ten peerless novels about Nottingham's Inspector Charlie Resnick have won at least a modest reprieve in these eleven stories, two never before published. Harvey's already won widespread praise for his gritty urban backgrounds, his nice attention to the limits of the law, and his nuanced portraits of no-nonsense, jazz-and-cat-loving Resnick and his mates. The most welcome news here is how sensitive he can be to the differences among the dozens of different crooks who cross Charlie's path, from smirking, irredeemable Nicky Snape in "Dexterity" to Grabianski, the burglar who falls for a nun in "Bird of Paradise," to Ray-o Cooke, the slaughterhouse worker who drags his pathetic way through four stories ("She Rote," "Confirmation," "Work," "Stupendous") in between the two novels (Cutting Edge, Last Rites) he appears in. As his refreshingly candid introduction implies, Harvey's as capable of routine work as the next writer, but even the most pro forma items here, the anecdotal "Cool Blues" and "Slow Burn," the surprisingly one-note tone poem to arson, are a-glint with off-speed dialogue and lowlifes you've never imagined before. Read full book review >
LAST RITES by John Harvey
Released: May 1, 1999

Unhappy news for the many fans of Harvey's Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick (Still Waters, etc.). This is the tenth and presumably the last of his appearances. Crime in Nottingham has escalated since the early days—drug dealing and all that goes with it are major plagues now—but at the moment the police forces are absorbed by the escape from custody of Michael Preston. Serving a life sentence for the killing of his father, Preston had been allowed, handcuffed and under heavy guard, to attend the funeral of his mother. Guard or not, though, after the rites he escaped, further agitating his sister Lorraine, her husband Derek, and their two teenaged children. Meanwhile, Resnick's division, headed by Helen Siddons of Serious Crimes Department, is struggling to find the on-the-take traitor in their midst while a quiet war ensues between big-time drug dealers Drew Valentine and others. There are robberies, stabbings, shootings—all more or less routine while Resnick tries to sort out his feelings for old love Lynn Kellogg (presently in great need of comfort since her father is dying of cancer) and teacher Hannah Campbell, a newer but not stronger attachment. It all becomes background to the last desperate efforts of Michael Preston to make good his escape, gathering a fortune, getting even with old enemies, and, most urgent of all, taking with him the only thing he ever really wanted. Harvey's characters live; his plotting is many-layered but never impedes a solidly escalating suspense: Charlie Resnick—all too human in the noblest way—will be sorely missed. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1999

Eighteen stories in the mystery genre, edited by British poet, cultural historian, and mystery writer Harvey (Easy Meat, 1996, etc.), explore the meaning of music in offbeat lives. Gritty nightclub dressing rooms, late-night disc jockeys talking to themselves, pop lyrics ironically contrasted with grim realities, romantic sax men dreaming through their horns—it's all here, from writers as established as Walter Mosley (whose "Blue Lightning" offers a brief glimpse of the dignified ex-con musical tootler Socrates Fortlow finding redemption) and as unheralded as singer/novelist Rosanne Cash, who imagines a sentimental summit between her father, Johnny Cash, and an ineptly disguised Beatle in "John Lennon in the American South." Most contributors, like Harvey himself—whose "Cool Blues" sets his hero Inspector Charlie Resnick on the trail of a serial robber who takes the names of Duke Ellington's band members as his aliases—lack superstar dazzle but are reasonably well known. Jeffery Deaver's "Nocturne" is a snappy Manhattan police procedural about a stolen Stradivarius and an unconventional, musically-inspired cop's bighearted sense of justice; Gary Phillips" more standard whodunit shows what fools rap musicians can be as Ivan Monk, his series detective, unmasks a "Stone Cold Killah." Most stories dwell on the peaks and pits of musical types who—ll never hog the spotlight: Ira Rankin, in his pretentious second-person confessional "Glimmer," tells of a dissolute playwright who happened to be in the right place at the right time when the Rolling Stones needed somebody to sing "ooh, ooh." Music also sounds rites of passage, bringing on a mental breakdown in Kirsty Gunn's "Aja" and a heart attack for an aging blues singer in Charlotte Carter's "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing." Sour notes: in an appendix the writers plug their works, prattle on about how much they love music, and list the tunes they played while they were writing the stories. Read full book review >
EASY MEAT by John Harvey
Released: Sept. 1, 1996

It's hard to imagine a teenager who deserves to die as much as Nicky Snape. He's a burgeoning one-kid crime wave, stealing from his mother, his teacher Hannah Campbell, and the owners of whatever cars he and his mates can boost. But when he's found dead in the children's home where he was sent after being pulled off the elderly couple he was beating in the course of still another robbery, his mother grieves just as deeply as if he'd been a model child, and his older brother Shane, no stranger to the police himself, turns just as threatening. Inspector Charlie Resnick pledges that stolid veteran Bill Aston will head a thorough investigation into Nicky's apparent suicide (what was the motive? where was the superintending staff? was there any possibility of murder?)—but then Aston himself is found beaten to death, and Resnick's people reel as they struggle to make sense of this sickening new development. And of their own lives: Constable Lynn Kellogg sees a therapist about the murderous abduction she survived; Constable Kevin Naylor agonizes about his inability to get his wife pregnant; Constable Mark Divine sows his seed broadcast; Resnick himself takes up with Hannah Campbell—till the whole case snaps together with a final jolt. Harvey's 24-karat British procedurals (Living Proof, 1995, etc.) have always led the field, but in his eighth he's surpassed himself with a likely Edgar nominee that just might win him the audience he's always deserved. (First printing of 50,000; author tour) Read full book review >
MEN IN BLACK by John Harvey
Released: Nov. 15, 1995

Harvey (English/Cambridge Univ.) unravels the meanings behind black as a fashion statement from the medieval to the modern, concentrating on funereal Victorian England as viewed through Dickens's novels. Dress and fashion have always had their rules and social functions. By examining historical figures as well as artistic and literary portrayals of men in black, Harvey looks at the color's migrating popularity in European clothing and interprets it as an expression of smartness, formality, authority, severity, mourning, self-negation, and death. If black as a grim uniform had early adoptions by the ascetic Dominicans, Ivan the Terrible's cruel Oprichniki troops, and the officials of the Spanish Inquisition, Harvey argues, it also had individual appeal as a somber but august style among medieval nobility, such as Philip the Good of Burgundy and Charles V of Spain (and even Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet). In Harvey's thesis both religious and noble fashions transmuted and trickled down to the dandy Beau Brummel and the agents of the Industrial Revolution. Although Harvey's skimming of historical fashions is a decent synthesis, his weak interpretative ability hampers his discussion of the Victorian period. Shadowing Max Weber, Harvey posits a Protestant work ethic requiring dress in black as part of Britain's Calvinist legacy, with the likes of Dickens and Ruskin critiquing its paradoxical aspects of repression and self-assertion. This Victorian social history unfortunately gets badly diverted into some unilluminating literary criticism, particularly of Dickens's dark side, and by the time Harvey reaches modernity, his thesis has lost most of its momentum. This patchwork of social theory, literary criticism, and art history has an initially eye-catching thesis, but it ends up fading and clashing with itself. (85 b&w illustrations, not seen) Read full book review >
LIVING PROOF by John Harvey
Released: July 1, 1995

Providing police protection to Cathy Jordan, the visiting hard-boiled American author who's being threatened with the same gruesome fates she's visited on her characters, doesn't leave Inspector Charlie Resnick and his Nottingham team much manpower to pursue leads in another casefour attacks on local men who've been remarkably closemouthed about the women (woman?) who stabbed them. Then a fifth attack ends in murder, and Cathy Jordan, who's suffered nothing worse than some more anonymous letters and a can of red paint flung at her by an irate demonstrator, is left to fend for herself while Resnick & Co. get serious about their more reclusive femme fatale. As usual in Resnick's cases, there's a galaxy of brightly drawn supporting players, from Cathy's gladhanding, unhappy husband to her desiccated professional rival to the hapless book-collector who stands a little too close to that demonstrator. Harvey's seventh procedural (Cold Light, 1994, etc.) is smartly paced, slyly humorous, unsentimental about police work, violence, and other alienations of affectionaltogether one of his best. Just like his first six. Read full book review >
COLD LIGHT by John Harvey
Released: Aug. 11, 1994

Sixth in the author's superb series of police procedurals featuring complex Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick and his colleagues in a Northern English city (Off-Minor, 1992, etc.). Dana Matthieson, librarian in a firm of architects, has invited roommate Nancy Phelan, a social worker, to a company Christmas dance at a local hotel. Nancy, seen late in the evening getting into a car, has now vanished. The two major suspects are hot-tempered Gary James, jobless father of two, who threatened Nancy, his caseworker, in her Welfare Dept. office; and Robin Hidden, a neurotic suitor who loved her passionately and was turned down flat. As backgrounds and alibis are painstakingly sifted, we observe Nancy's anguished parents; the grubby, violence-infused life of Gary and his sweet non-wife Michelle; and Dana's short-lived involvement with DI Charlie. The case nears a dead end, but when yet another victim turns up missing Charlie and his team make all the right moves to a tensely emotional windup. A suspenseful, unfailingly engrossing procedural enhanced by its clipped, faintly sardonic style—the best yet in Harvey's unbroken string of winners. (Mystery Guild main selection; author tour) Read full book review >
WASTED YEARS by John Harvey
Released: June 10, 1993

It's 1992, and the scruffy Midlands city where Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick (Off Minor, etc.) lives and works is plagued by a series of well-planned robberies. They remind Charlie of similar happenings ten years back that ended with the jailing of taciturn, icy John Prior—after an encounter that brought Charlie closer to death than he'd ever been. Prior's blues singer wife Ruth became involved with a detective on the case—the sinister Rains. Charlie's marriage also ended about then, and Rains later left the force for greener fields. Now, Prior is about to be released from prison—supposedly a reformed man. Charlie, a passionate lover of jazz and blues, worries about the fate of Ruth, now vanished, if a vengeful Prior catches up with her. But he finds a way to track her, through pathetic small-time crook Keith Nylands, long under the thumb of his vicious onetime prison pal Darren. Keith's alcoholic father Reg, once a talented drummer, knows Ruth's whereabouts. He and Charlie strike a bargain that activates the unflaggingly tense buildup to a surprising climax. A dizzying but never incoherent panorama of broken dreams, brutal street language, bent cops, as well as those struggling to do their jobs and hold their lives together—all of it permeated by Charlie's unsanctimonious probity and clumsy grace. Harvey is truly master of the police procedural for the 90's. Read full book review >
OFF MINOR by John Harvey
Released: July 1, 1992

In the down-at-heels northern England city where lonely, divorced Detective-Inspector Charlie Resnick lives and works, the body of six-year-old Gloria Summers—missing for more than two months—has at last been found. Now, however, little Emily Morrison has also vanished, raising the specter of a similar end in the minds of her newly married father and stepmother—as well as a sense of urgency in the men of Resnick's precinct as they diligently pursue every lead. One of those leads, activated by Resnick's intuition, bites pay dirt, but Emily's fate remains hidden until the final surprising pages. A score of vivid characters move in and out of the action— some brave and stoic, some frayed and hostile, some bravely human- -but Resnick, in past outings a solid, compelling focus amidst all the angst, is a weaker presence here, making this fourth in the series (beginning with Lonely Hearts, 1989) very slightly less than the author's best. Still, it's a powerful, first-class police procedural. Read full book review >
CUTTING EDGE by John Harvey
Released: June 20, 1991

Third in the author's compelling series featuring Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick and the men and women he works with in a northern English city. Charlie—introspective, divorced, comforted by his cats and jazz records—is, at the moment, immersed in trying to find the culprit in three slashing attacks, one of them fatal, all seemingly related in some way to the city's major hospital. Subplots abound; major and minor characters cut in and out—all of them vital whether revolting, respectable, or in-between. Tension mounts as Charlie and his team slog away at the investigation; overcome a major glitch; save a fourth victim—and solve their case. Harvey's police procedurals are in a class by themselves (Lonely Hearts, etc.)—near Dickensian in their portrayal of human frailty; cinematic in their quick changes of scene and character; totally convincing in their plotting and motivation. His latest is all of these—one more to be prized. Read full book review >