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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rivetting read
You don't need me to tell you what this is about - you can read the synopsis for yourself. If you want to know whether this is worth your time and money, then the answer is a resounding yes, if your tastes run to Detective fiction, because John Harvey writes some of the best examples of the genre.

This is the second of the Frank Elder books, and it's just as...
Published on 6 Oct 2007 by Andy Edwards

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books I have ever read
I bought this at a car boot for 10p based on the quotes on the cover and the summary on the back. It started off pretty well but went rapidly downhill after the first three chapters.

I got halfway and really wasn't enjoying it at all but thought I would have to persevere. Well I have just finished it and on the basis of this, my first John Harvey novel I would...
Published 9 months ago by Ace reviews


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rivetting read, 6 Oct 2007
By 
Andy Edwards "staxasoul" (Essex UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
You don't need me to tell you what this is about - you can read the synopsis for yourself. If you want to know whether this is worth your time and money, then the answer is a resounding yes, if your tastes run to Detective fiction, because John Harvey writes some of the best examples of the genre.

This is the second of the Frank Elder books, and it's just as good as the first. The characters are credible and well developed, as is the plot, which has 2 distinct elements which come to a satisfying conclusion. Well paced and written in a no nonsense style, this is highly recommended. If you like Peter Robinson, or say, Michael Connolly, then you'll like this
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 4 Jun 2008
By 
M. V. Clarke (Durham, UK) - See all my reviews
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Having read a few of John Harvey's short stories, including one featuring Frank Elder, the central character of this novel, I looked forward to reading this, and was not disappointed. It's a gripping story, vividly told with detailed characters and a complex and convincing plot. Harvey's characters are multi-layered individuals - we see much of Elder's professional, personal and family life in detail, while his relationships with colleagues are a source of light humour. There are multiple strands to the plot, some apparently obvious while others come as a great surprise. Well worth reading.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gritty and gripping, 19 April 2008
By 
Bluebell (UK) - See all my reviews
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A year or so ago, I discovered John Harvey as a writer by mistake -- I thought I was buying a thriller by Ian Rankin's Nom de Plume, Jack Harvey! But I wasn't disappointed. He and Ian Rankin (in his Rebus crime novels) have certain similarities in their styles of gritty realism and that their main characters are Detective Inspectors (retired in the case of Harvey's Frank Elder) who are loners with broken marriages and daughters who have been kidnapped in the past.

Ash and Bone starts with a riveting first chapter that is the spring-board to a gripping central murder story about which two other narratives intertwine. Consequently, there are quite a few characters to keep track of, but by the end of the book the threads are all brought together very satisfactorily.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars well written and tightly plotted, 7 Sep 2008
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This review is from: Ash and Bone (Paperback)
This is a rattling read as we get to grips with crimes past and present as well as the tortuous private life of the main character. A bleak tale of greed and nastiness with little to make you optimistic about the police force's capacity to reform itself or of man's capacity to do good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Crime thriller, 27 Feb 2013
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Excellent novel. Love this authors style of writing and the plot is good. Will certainly read other novels by him.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another cracker..., 10 Jan 2011
J.H. very rarely fails to impress and this one is no exception - it hooks the reader in the first few pages and effortlessly manages to run seemingly disparate plotlines together throughout, yet still be easily followed and believable all the way to a satifying conclusion.

Many shocks and surprises along the way as is usual from the author - very much recommended for fans of the detective/thriller genre - if you like Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin et al you won't be disappointed.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars crime close to home, 5 Aug 2006
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I have only recently discovered John Harvey with Flesh and Blood, which I enjoyed so much I ordered Ash and Bone the same day! I found this to have a slower start, but the death of Maddy Birch had me so instantly hooked I was unable to put the book to one side and literally found myself sitting up into the small hours reading!

I found the three main storylines worked well together, but it was Frank's professional determination to catch Maddy's killer and his personal inability to deal with Katherine's previous rape and abduction that really put this in the 5 star category for me. Unlike many crime novels, this one actually causes the reader to ponder the impact of crime on society, rather than simply creating a great story with a neatly sewn-up ending. I found myself thinking about many elements this book after finishing it...

John Harvey has created a novel with a page turning plot, sensitively written relationships and a true sense of haunting fear and terror throughout, yet none of these elements overwhelms the other. A truly intelligent crime novel!
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GOLD TROPHY FOR "ASH & BONE", 11 Dec 2005
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ash and Bone (Hardcover)
"Maddy Birch would never see thirty again. Nor forty either." This is what she thought as she frowned into a mirror that revealed wrinkles beginning to show around her mouth and gray sneaking into her hair. The first lines of "Ash & Bone" describe someone growing older. Sounds benign, doesn't it?
Here's a woman none too pleased with the signs of aging as she approaches her 44th birthday. She's a British detective sergeant assigned to Serious and Organized Crime. Her bank account's thin and she's making payments on her flat. Maddy doesn't think that's much to show for "half a lifetime on the force."
Readers are immediately drawn to this no-nonsense likable woman. She's devoted to her job, doesn't much care for the condescension shown females on the force, and most definitely isn't interested in suggestive leers or clumsy gropes from her fellow officers. When we first meet her she's in a minor state of shock. She had recently accompanied Detective Superintendent Mallory and young Paul Draper on a raid to capture a top criminal, James William Grant. During that foray Grant is shot and killed by Mallory who notes, "Textbook. Head and heart." The killing, Mallory finds, is cause for "A wee celebration."
At this point readers are totally hooked, wondering where ace thriller writer John Harvey is going with Maddy and her response to this experience. Thus, it's quite a shocker when she is found dead early on, page 64 to be exact.
Leading up to this Harvey has skillfully reintroduced retired Detective Inspector Frank Elder, who has received a disturbing telephone call from his former wife. It seems their teenage daughter, Katherine, is running amok, staying out for all hours, sometimes overnight, keeping company with a drug dealer.. Elder blames himself for Katherine's anti-social behavior, believing it to be trauma caused by her earlier kidnaping and rape - a crime he feels he could have prevented. This is remorse he can't erase even by "the slow but steady application of alcohol to the wound, the plastering over of helplessness and guilt."
Thus, we have two parallel stories, Katherine's salvation and the murder of Maddy Birch. Elder, humane, honest, lonely, comes out of retirement to help with the investigation of Maddy's death and at the same time try to reconnect with a daughter he loves.
Word master Harvey creates revelatory dialogue that tells you more about the characters than any physical or emotional description could. This author is so adroit that even silences between people speak. His story is, of course, a police procedural, but penned with realism seldom found and respect for the characters he has created. He's devised a fast moving many layered plot that totally absorbs.
Suffice it to say that Elder almost meets his match in Detective Karen Shields, smart, black, great looking, and an intimidating six feet tall. Together they begin to unearth evidence that Grant's killing goes far beyond a routine police shooting and may, in fact, jeopardize the credibility of the entire unit.
Harvey's first novel featuring Frank Elder, "Flesh & Blood," won the British Crime Writers' Association Silver Daggar Award - polish a gold trophy for "Ash & Bone."
- Gail Cooke
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "You had to get involved, you couldn't let things be.", 3 Dec 2005
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
A police procedural with several simultaneously unfolding plot lines, Ash and Bone is full of twists and turns, surprises and shocks, certain to keep mystery lovers reading well into the night. Complex and well developed, it features almost forty characters--police, crooks, and police who may be crooks, along with their lovers and families. Ostensibly "a Frank Elder mystery," Elder himself does not play a major role at the beginning of the novel. Instead the focus is on Maddy Birch, a detective sergeant in Serious and Organized Crime, who is on a bust with Paul Draper, a young detective constable, trying to apprehend James William Grant, a man accused of armed robbery, money laundering, drug dealing, and extortion, when things go very wrong.

Detective Inspector Frank Elder, retired from the Nottinghamshire force and now living the life of a semi-recluse in Cornish, is persuaded to help in the internal investigation of Grant's death. Maddy Birch is someone he has known for years and has cared about. Separated from his wife for several years, Elder blames himself, in part, for his daughter's abduction, rape, and violent assault when she was in her early teens. As Frank tries to reconnect with this estranged daughter, he is, at the same time, investigating the Grant case and the people involved in it.

Karen Shields, detective chief inspector of Homicide West, initially does not want to talk with Frank, but they become confidantes as three separate plot lines unfold--the story of Maddy and the death of Grant; the story of Frank's daughter Katherine and her lover Rob Summers, who becomes the subject of a police investigation for drugs; and the story of a rogue police detective who may have much to hide--someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to protect his own, mostly financial, interests.

A gritty police procedural, Ash and Bone tracks several characters who have connections to more than one plot line--involving drugs, prostitution, and graft--creating suspense and dramatic tension as new information is revealed about each of these characters and their behavior. Eventually, characters become linked to "cold cases," and the horror of their betrayals of the public trust creates even more suspense as the implications regarding Elder's cases become obvious.

Lovers of police procedurals will find this novel a classic of the genre. Realistic, often depressing because of the venality of some of the players, but carefully constructed within a tight narrative structure, Ash and Bone offers much to intrigue admirers of character development, at the same time that it keeps the tension high with plot twists and new characters. Though Elder himself is not fully developed here, the "bones" that author Harvey has created will allow further development in future novels. Complex, the plot keeps the reader fascinated, and all "loose ends" are eventually resolved.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars One of the worst books I have ever read, 2 July 2013
I bought this at a car boot for 10p based on the quotes on the cover and the summary on the back. It started off pretty well but went rapidly downhill after the first three chapters.

I got halfway and really wasn't enjoying it at all but thought I would have to persevere. Well I have just finished it and on the basis of this, my first John Harvey novel I would never read another of his. It was truly awful.

There was not one sympathetic, interesting or likeable character in the whole book. There were at least 5 different storylines going on which, at times, made me wonder if the copy I had bought was a misprint or missing pages. As far as I can tell it wasn't.

It was full of cliches, stereotypes and absurd words thrown in to make it come across as more worthy literature. It really isn't. I gave it 2 stars to start but on reflection that is generous so am downgrading to one star.

One of the worst books I have ever read.
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Ash And Bone: (Frank Elder)
Ash And Bone: (Frank Elder) by John Harvey (Paperback - 25 April 2013)
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