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3.0 out of 5 stars Not as Sharp as the First Two, 2 Jun 2006
A. Ross (Washington, DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Halo Parade: A Harpur and Iles Mystery (Harpur & Iles Mysteries) (Paperback)
This third entry in James' lengthy (20+ books) "Harpur + Iles" series takes place not too long after the first two. By the end of the second, DCS Colin Harpur and Assistant Chief Commissioner Iles were almost at each others throats, so it was with great interest that I picked this one up to see how they would get along. As in the previous two, James starts the book by dropping the reader into the middle of a case. Harpur is running a young undercover cop who has managed to get close one of the area's major drug wholesalers, but Iles and the newly installed Chief Lane are getting nervous about the setup. As readers of the first two might expect, something goes badly wrong, and Harpur and Iles are left to pick up the nasty pieces.

There's something slightly unsatisfying about this entry in the series. The case just isn't as compelling as the previous ones -- perhaps because the villain isn't that distinctive. He's kind of a typical, cocky, smooth piece of work whose only distinguishing feature is that he's gay (what is it with the British and gay gangsters?). The story is mostly a psychological battle between Harpur and Iles and villain, but it never really builds to a proper crescendo. The reader does get a little deeper into Iles' twisted mind, and once again, he spouts some of the most off-the-wall dialogue to be found in a crime novel, but none of the other characters are developed much further. Harpur's assistant Garland hovers unobtrusively in the background, Chief Lane doesn't leave much of an impression, and Harpur's wife Megan and paramour Ruth make brief appearances, but it's all fairly status quo.

Although the body count ratchets up by the end of the book, and some of it gets grisly, but there's not enough depth to the case to really capture the imagination. Most readers will have guessed at how everything will be resolved, and so the ending lacks the shocking power James certainly intended. Definitely weaker than the first two in the series, but I'll keep reading to see how it all develops.
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Halo Parade: A Harpur and Iles Mystery (Harpur & Iles Mysteries)
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