Sunday, 3 January 2010


There is trouble in Pompey, as usual, and Joe Faraday gets dragged into investigating the hit-and-run death of one of the nastiest of the youths terrorizing the Portsdown estate. Faraday, always a problem for his bosses, will then be tasked with using new DNA techniques to re-open a 25 year old rape case. He's more despondent than usual, since his French lover has departed for Montreal, and, being Faraday, he knows she will never return.

Meanwhile, former cop Paul Winter is now dragged further into the affairs of his boss, Pompey crime lord Bazza McKenzie. McKenzie's daughter Esme is cheating on her husband, and even worse, given the family business and her involvement it in, she's doing it with a cop. And when Esme's son is kidnapped, everything goes pear-shaped.

Graham Hurley does two things exceptionally well, and these plots intertwine because of those two things. One is to detail the urban blight of Portsmouth, the decay, the moral rot of crime within the city. That Bazza should have set up Winter as a faux-community worker, complete with a bizarre green van, gives a touch of the absurd to the equation, but the first half of the book, centered on the reality of life in the estates, is truly upsetting. Hurley's other skill is in understanding the internal dynamics of the police force, the way policing is sacrificed in favour of statistics, in which ambition colours tactical decisions, and most importantly the way justice rides second to law and order. The real tension in this novel comes from the way those concerns play against life in Portsmouth. And although Winter has become the more dominant character in the series lately, the real emotional heart remains Faraday, and his internal battles throughout the novel are its crux.

Beyond Reach refers not only to Bazza, who remains one step ahead of the filth at every step of the game, nor to the youth of the estates, who are beyond the reach of virtually all of society's usual motivations and controls, but also to the whole idea of policing which Faraday, throughout the series has cherished. The intertwining stories have their final confluence in Faraday's solving of the old rape case, and though the solution is apparent fairly early, it is in its resolution that the real power of this story lies, and, as happens so many times in the story, the only way forward with any practical hope of success falls afoul of the rules of the bureaucratic game. Faraday needed Winter, to relieve his internal morose depression, because Hurley is so good at tracing the larger malaise, and it is even more depressing. This is another powerful novel, and the crimes it examines are legion.

Beyond Reach by Graham Hurley
Orion £12.99 ISBN 9781409101215

NOTE: This review will also appear at

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