Book Review: Flesh and Blood by John Harvey

Flesh and Blood
A Frank Elder Mystery #1
John Harvey
Otto Penzler Books
ISBN 978-0-15-603181-7
Trade Paperback

Frank Elder is a retired Detective Inspector and separated from his wife and sixteen-year-old daughter. He had a successful thirty-year career in the Nottinghamshire police force. Elder is retired and living alone with his nightmares in a small cottage on the Cornish coast. Now he’s waiting for a reunion of sorts with his daughter, Katherine.

Shortly after their reunion and her return to Nottingham, Elder is notified that the young perpetrator in one of his more lurid cases, Shane Donald, is being paroled. Donald spent seventeen years in prison for the abduction, rape and murder of a young woman about Katherine’s age.

The setup for the novel carefully establishes the detective, Elder, and those around him, the environment, down to daily clothing and meals, and many of the future characters in this long and thoughtful story.

The rich narrative travels through dozens of small towns as Elder is drawn into another missing girl case as a consultant. Author Harvey gradually develops a second plot, married to the first in clever ways, which draws readers ever deeper into a morass of depravity and murder.

Although the pace is slower than many readers of this kind of crime novel are used to, the measured raising of tension, questions floated and sometimes answered, the gradual reveal of links through logic and careful police work is mesmerizing. Gritty, direct and modern, this British crime novel is, in a word, excellent.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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