Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Patience Pays Off

Wasted Years
by John Harvey

Having read John Harvey’s later works I knew he was a great writer. It was this faith that has sustained me through the first four books of his Charlie Resnick series. Charlie is a divorced, forty something, jazz-loving Detective Inspector with the Nottingham police force who solves crimes one plodding step at a time. I say plodding in a good way as he does not make unbelievable jumps in reasonable logic to suddenly solve the case; rather he takes the information at hand and pursues it relentlessly. The Resnick books are just plain old good police procedurals.
The weakness of the first four has been the lack of character depth and the tightness of the plots, but having read his Frank Elder series, I know he developed those writing skills with time. Wasted Years, book five in the series, is where he makes that change. The book itself is 100 pages longer than any of the others, but at the same time less plot points are mixed in. Harvey is telling a very tight story but in a much more realistic and life like way.
In this book we see the juxtaposition of two bank robbery teams, one from 10 years previous and one from today. In the upcoming parole of the original criminal and the beginnings of another career on crime, they all come together with Resnick. We see choices made and consequences meted out, and see how small and simple things can lead to a life, or a lot of Wasted Years.
Could this book have been better, yes, but I am really looking forward to the rest of the series.


Lena said...

I really love your book reviews. They are not always books that I would read, but I like the way you review them. And I love that you read so much! I can never finish books as fast as I wish I could.

TStevens said...

The secret is to go back in time and spend your formative years in a country without English speaking TV. I spent 4 years in Turkey from the ages of 5 through 8, so I read a lot early on; and I learned to read fast.

For some strange reason no one ever appreciates my advice on reading more ;-)