Monday, December 17, 2018

Body & Soul by John Harvey

First Sentence:  The house was at the edge of the village, the last in a row of stubby stone-built cottages backing onto fields which led down to the sea.
Retired policeman Frank Elder hasn't seen his daughter for a while, so is surprised when she shows up with bandages on her wrist.  Unwilling to talk about it, Katherine stays two days and is gone, with events of Katy's past still being a major wedge between them.  Frank wants to help, which leads him into the world of painters and life modeling.  Yet once a cop means you never know what danger may lie in wait.
The recounting of what happened to Katherine when younger is succinct and very painful to read.  Harvey also provides a good accounting of Frank's history, including his periodic work with DI Trevor Cordon, and his current relationship with jazz singer Vicki Parsons.  It is Harvey's definition which makes one put Frank's life in perspective—"Loneliness is just solitude taken a step too far."

One thing to love about Harvey's style is his subtlety.  That DCI Hadley is gay and D.S. Phillips is black are details one comes to know as casually as its being a sunny day.  And isn't that as it should be?—"Living in London as long as he had, thirty-one of his thirty-five years, it was possible to go for days, sometimes, without being reminded of the color of his skin."
There are twists, and then there are knock-you-back-twists.   It is the latter which Harvey has created.  Although there are references to a previous case, enough information is provided so that there is no sense of pieces missing.  Harvey builds the suspense steadily, keeping one completely enthralled.  
"Body & Soul," the final book in the Frank Elder series, is apparently also the last full-length novel Harvey plans to write.  It is extremely well done, very emotional with a shocking turn, and a devastating ending.  However, if one is curious about the series, do start with "Flesh and Blood," the first book of the series.

BODY & SOUL (Pol Proc-Frank Elder-England-Contemp) - Ex
      Harvey, John – 4th in series
      Pegasus Books – Nov 2018

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a really interesting mix of personal life and professional life for the sleuth. Sometimes that can work quite well. Glad you enjoyed this!