ROSES, ROSES by Bill James


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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. The occasion this time, his tenth (Gospel, 1997, etc.), is the murder of Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur’s wife Megan, whose trip home from a tryst with her lover Tambo to tell her husband she was leaving him was cut short by three knife thrusts in a deserted car park. Harper’s so shocked by the news that he practically stops his own philandering to look after his disillusioned teenaged daughters and forms an uneasy alliance with Tambo, whose credentials for cuckolding Harpur (he’s a former Assistant Chief Constable) are compromised by Megan’s fears of the unexplained cash Tambo had been flashing around lately. As usual, everybody on both sides of the law knows everything about everybody else—Harpur’s senior snitch, Jack Lamb, even talks about having Megan’s and Tambo’s latest embraces on audiotape—but what grim humor James squeezes out of his hero’s awkwardly unencumbering bereavement comes mostly from his brutal cuts back and forth in time between Harpur’s investigation and Megan’s resolutely uninformed return from Tambo’s to pick up her car so that she can go to face Harpur at last. Pitch-black antiheroics, even for James celebrated anti-procedural series.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-393-04637-0
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1998


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