John Harvey’s Far Cry
moves the author’s output into the treble figures and (thankfully) he shows no sign of slowing down. In this latest novel, Harvey once again airs his skill at fashioning an utterly compelling crime narrative. The protagonist here is DI Will Grayson, a well-rounded and persuasive figure (though, commendably, Harvey eschews the usual police protagonist shorthand of alcoholism and a messy private life): Grayson has two children, a contented marriage and a troubling relationship with DS Helen Walker, his police colleague. She's the one with messy private life, and Grayson ill-advisedly lectures her about her inappropriate choice of sexual partners. The interplay between the two – never overstated – is one of the pleasures of the book, as such interactions were in the author’s recent series of Frank Elder novels. One of the key concerns of Far Cry
is the challenging subject of the rights of the individual.
Ruth Pierce and her husband try unsuccessfully to cope with the anguish of their daughter’s disappearance, but their marriage can’t take the strain of their terrible loss, and they separate. Years later, Ruth marries for a second time, but (to her horror) her second daughter, Beatrice, also disappears.
Detective Will Grayson is on the trail of the creepy Mitchell Roberts, a paedophile who has been released from prison, and Grayson makes it clear that he is on Roberts’ case as the latter begins his old tricks by hanging around schools. Grayson and Helen Walker (who is having an affair with an older married colleague) discover that matters at stake here are not just the protection of children from dangerous human predators – and issues such as the freedom of the individual become crucial, as lives are put at risk.
John Harvey, as ever, is able to freight such weighty matters into his narrative without ever obscuring the essential purpose of the crime novel: to compel the attention and to entertain. The entertainment here is of the disturbing variety, as so often with this author. --Barry Forshaw
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"This is one of John Harvey's best novels, which means it's one of the best, full stop." (Crime Time
"Harvey's fleshed-out characters and sure grasp of the complex emotional underpinnings of society generally, and individuals in particular, make him a favourite among crime writers and readers alike" (Daily Mail
"All Harvey's usual virtues - strong minor characters, likeable, three-dimensional cops, adroit handling of a complex plot and large cast - are in evidence" (Sunday Times
"A taut tale exploring the themes of child abduction, abuse and bereavement... [the] understated narrative is elegant and effortlessly gripping" (Press Association (syndicated article)
"The architecture of Harvey's storytelling begs to be admired, with its multiple narratives, shifting time lines and elaborate plot details. But it's his handling of difficult characters and provocative themes that gives the book weight. All the adults in this story love children, some selflessly and others in ways that make your skin crawl, and they all react differently when the children they love are taken away from them. Harvey's touch is so subtle, his style so seductive, the he distracts us from the fact that Ruth isn't the only person whose choices are determined, or tragically derailed, by love for a child - even if it's someone else's child" (New York Times