Wednesday, 28 January 2009

A DOUBLE DOSE OF GRAHAM HURLEY

Graham Hurley's latest novel, No Lovelier Death, is about to be published, and my review of it appears over at Crime Time, here. It's another strong addition to the Faraday/Winter series, and Hurley strikes me as being perhaps the least appreciated of the great British police procedural writers. It's hard to understand why, because as well as being acutely sensitive to British society, in the best traditions of Martin Beck, and acute about the society of cops, like John Harvey, Faraday himself ought to appeal to fans of the Morse-style, more sensitive, detective, yet Morse was never given a Winter against whom he could be played off.

At least he's appreciated here. In fact, the musty files of Crime Time's print edition turned up the following review, which languished there ever since I wrote it just about three years ago.Blood And Honey was the sixth in the series, which has continued its annual punctuality, and marked the point where Winter's growth as a main character had become too impressive to ignore. Here's what I said, back in 2006:

Graham Hurley's Joe Faraday series, which has appeared on an amazingly regular annual schedule for six years, keeps getting better and better. Its depth and breadth have increased to the point that they are now billing it as ‘Faraday and Winter’, acknowledging the equal importance of both characters. They aren’t partnered up, as most crime double acts would be, but rather play as a sort of Pompey ying and yang, the dark sides of policing and policemen contrasting with those moments of light each offers.
Most of Faraday’s action in this one takes place on the Isle of Wight, where a headless corpse has washed up directly under prime bird-watching cliffs. As Faraday gets involved more and more with refugees from Yugoslavia, and expansion of the case into the smuggling of people, for illegal immigration and worse, Winter hopes to bring down a prominent local big wig by using a high-class call-girl in a sting. But Winter’s own state of mind is being torn apart by severe migraines, which he fears may be the symptoms of something far worse. And weakness of any sort is anathema to Winter.

The beauty of Hurley’s writing is that the crimes his detectives have to solve arise out of such varied motivations, but the biggest ones, like murder are often simply a reaction, or over-reaction, to some very different sort of pressure, often outside the normal boundaries of the criminal world itself.Those pressures are generally reflected in his detectives,and in the way they face up to and deal with the insular community of Portsmouth,in its own way a microcosm of the darker side of modern Britain. Perhaps not the brave new world of Blair, Brown and Cameron, but certainly one not yet removed from the legacies of the Thatcher years.

Blood and Honey Graham Hurley Orion 2006, £10.99 ISBN 0752851004

1 comment :

Tom Bale said...

I quite agree. I only recently discovered this excellent series myself, and I'm mystified that it isn't better known. I'm sure that any fans of Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson and John Harvey would thoroughly enjoy the work of Graham Hurley.