four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
38-Jan-Feb-2009
By: 
John Harvey
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0
Award Year: 
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A-Cold in HandJohn Harvey, the British master of crime procedural novels, resurrects Nottingham detective Charlie Resnick. Resnick last starred in Last Rites (1998), though he has made supporting appearances in more recent works. In this 11th novel in the series, he is older and wiser—and finds the world quite changed.

The Story: The Story: In 2008, Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick is nearing retirement as he enters his 30th year on the force. He has also taken up residence with his cats, an impressive collection of American jazz, and girlfriend and colleague policewoman Lynn Kellogg. When Kellogg is injured in a gang altercation, she and Resnick become entrapped in a web of multicultural crime, racial conflict, and prostitution. The crime and their involvement in it perfectly illustrate England’s current state of affairs—one where an overwhelmingly white police force is becoming increasingly at odds with a growing immigrant population, leading to certain catastrophe.
Harcourt. 376 pages. $26. ISBN: 0151014620

Charlotte Observer 4 of 5 Stars
"On the surface, it is a comprehensive police procedural with several investigations juggled with aplomb. For all its suspense, Cold in Hand is equally an emotionally laden novel that delves into life changes, grief and revenge." Oline H. Cogdill

Guardian (UK) 4 of 5 Stars
"In John Harvey’s sure and practiced hands, police procedural novels achieve new heights in grainy reality. … The writing is thrilling and atmospheric, and you will understand why he received last year’s Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in the crime genre." Matthew Lewin

Independent (UK) 4 of 5 Stars
"As in much of the best crime fiction, this is a state-of-the-nation novel, and Harvey suggests that his own vision may have become as nihilistic as that of the sociopathic characters that populate Cold in Hand. … The book is quite possibly Harvey’s most authoritative in years: visceral, engaged and, yes, unputdownable." Barry Forshaw

Mirror (UK) 4 of 5 Stars
"Cold in Hand is classic Harvey and classic Resnick. … [It] doesn’t just pack a hefty punch from the word go, it stays with you."

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Harvey’s novels are deeply rooted in reality, not just the reality of crime but of how people live and what his characters see and hear when they walk down the street. … If you enjoy police procedurals, this sad, powerful novel will surely give you pleasure." Patrick Anderson

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[S]uch outbursts of futility feel every bit as authentic as the fusillades of incoherent rage that ricochet off the streets. … Even good guys have their limits, and the jazz album Resnick plays at the end … tells us things will never be the same." Marilyn Stasio

Critical Summary

John Harvey has developed a formidable reputation over the years for delivering some of the best police procedural novels in Britain. Cold in Hand continues that legacy as Harvey brings back beloved detective Charles Resnick and once again paints a realistic portrait of the bleak situation facing Britain’s police departments—not to mention its cities—today. The author’s talent fortunately extends beyond a mere familiarity with the crime world and into his carefully crafted characters. Harvey’s understated prose and sensibility do wonders to show readers what Resnick and Kellogg experience as they traverse this dystopian vision of Nottingham. Cold in Hand, a heartbreaking portrait of contemporary English affairs, will rivet readers until the end.