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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars37
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 11 September 2011
This was a great read. I know nothing about the author and it was a random selection but the writing was really really good. Smooth as silk prose, some lovely descriptive pieces, some great one liners and I thought the whole play on hollowness - the corrupt cops, the seedy images of London, the lead detective's hollowed out complacency and gambling debts etc was spot on, zeitgeist stuff. Oliver Harris is going to go on to big things, is my guess, if he keeps up this standard. Only slightly quibble, slightly lost my attetnion in the last chunk of the book, as the author tried to wrap it all up and stay within those pesky genre parametres but hey, the first 3/4's I read in one sitting and that's a rare thing as I often have the attention of gnat.
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on 25 October 2011
Although the plot twists stretched the bounds of credulity, this was an engaging and fun read which I found hard to put down. The protagonist is an engaging and entertaining character, although given his already lawless behaviour and cavalier attitude to his job, it's not clear where Oliver Harris will go from here in developing him in future books. A particular pleasure of this book were the descriptions of London which are vivid and believable - it has a real sense of place.
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on 19 July 2012
The advent of a new British detective anti-hero in this book, is rightly touted by the crits on the back. What stands out in Detective Nick Belsey's first foray is the way his creator Oliver Harris writes him. This is very literate clever witty and most of all intelligent crafting and makes it a joy to read. It reminded me a little of John Le Carre, except that Harris has the gift of making the reader gulp down the pages, where Le Carre forces the reader to be more circumspect. Harris has not written a cerebral spy novel, he's produced a cracking fast paced amusing read that will make readers want more. Belsey stretches moral police dubiety to breaking point, steals or begins to steal an oligarch's ID and money, finds himself in the sights of an assassin, undermines the authority of a police commissioner, steps over the lines of demarcation between the Met and the City forces, all the while of no particular fixed abode, having accumulated vast gambling debts, and imbibing much alcohol to create that temporary oblivion which enables him to steal and crash a police vehicle - and that's where the story starts. The penultimate denouement at Stansted airport has about it a Marx brothers flavour, which stayed with this reader, laughing aloud at its improbability, while measuring it by the obvious test - did the writer get away with it? And Harris did indeed, though he may want to consider avoiding this kind of absurdity as a comment on Belsey's world next time around, risking disrupting, as it almost did, the continuity of the grey in a new and welcome London detective noir. Does this sound like faint praise? It is in fact envy. Enjoy, all who enter hereon.
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on 9 July 2012
Oliver Harris writes very well indeed and I look forward to his next book. However, this story just ran away from him and became far too disjointed and improbable. He won't be the first to write an improbable story, US authors do it all the time, but the the good ones keep it on the right side of 'maybe'. Here you are in London and that 'maybe' doesn't stand up and as much as I liked his style, fast pace and humour, the story and lead character were just a little too much. In all walks of life people turn a blind eye, in this story the City was totally blind. Another chance.
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on 23 August 2013
This was a fast-paced tale, with a good, strong story that keeps the reader turning the pages.

However, the characters are difficult to connect with - especially the lead. Whilst he was well-written and enormously entertaining as a lead character, I just couldn't believe in him as a cop. He came across as being closer to a TV detective than someone you would find in the real-life Met. Whilst it's always a bonus to have a 'hero' with plenty of flaws, Nick Belsey seems to have so many flaws you wonder how he can function. More to the point, you wonder why he hadn't been chucked out of the police years ago.

But he drives the narrative, and the narrative sears along like an out-of-control express train - sometimes the plot stretches credulity to breaking point and beyond, and at times it reads more like a thriller than a conventional crime novel, but overall this was a thoroughly entertaining piece.

The plot has plenty of twists that makes it anything but predictable, and the descriptions of London are vivid and well-described. This is comparable with James Craig's Inspector Carlyle novels in terms of bringing London alive on the page.

I'm not sure Belsey sits up there with the Rebuses, Thornes et al of other contemporary crime books - he just feels to forced - but I suspect we haven't heard the last of him.
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on 3 June 2014
HOLLOW MAN is gritty police, set in Hampstead, with a literary bent. Murder squad detective Belsey’s life is going off the rails when he decides to hijack the identity of a missing Russian oligarch.

Belsey awakens one fine morning face down in the dirt on Hampstead Heath. Nearby is Kentish Town squad car he stole the pervious night in the midst of an obscenely drunken fraternization with the unsavory types among whom he makes his living. He is literally penniless, on the brink of bankruptcy, a drunk, lonely, more loathed then respected by his colleagues and teetering on the edge of a disciplinary chasm. He appears almost entirely detached from departmental procedures and his colleagues but is somehow still regarded as the best detective in his manor. Taking it upon himself to investigate the disappearance/ suicide of Alexei Devereux, the aforementioned oligarch, he obtains access to Devereux’s rented mansion in Finchley.

The first third of the book is class A literary thriller. Thereafter, there is nothing exceptional.

It’s still a very good book, but not enough of one thing or another to set the world alight.
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on 13 May 2011
The Hollow Man is an excellent book. It's an accomplished bit of work, well written with a complicated and interesting plot and a likeable main character with a dark side. As someone who reads a lot of thrillers, what I liked most about it was the fact it felt original, which I think is rare at the moment and very impressive indeed for a first time author. I also have a particular fondness for thrillers set in London's dark underbelly and THM really hit the spot. This was a very, very good read and I will definitely get Oliver Harris's next book.
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on 15 June 2011
This is an outstanding first novel from Harris. In "The Hollow Man" he has managed to create a slick, stylishly written slice of London noir that picks with dirty fingernails at the scabs of the capital's dark underbelly. Sharp, timely, and shot through with a pleasingly dark sense of humour, the narrative plunges the reader into chaotic world of Detective Nick Besley, a rather unconventional (yet shabbily likable) cop working the case of an apparent suicide on North London's exclusive Bishops Avenue. The relentless pace and increasingly complex turn of events builds a sense of growing menace and alienation. Harris pays fond homage to Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard et al whilst simultaneously developing a new, stylish voice with its own distinctly North London twang. Harris also throws many a satirical glance towards the excesses of the City's money men and the sacred cows of the good residents of Hampstead. What's not to like?
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on 17 October 2013
I've just finished this book and found it a real page turner. Oliver Harris builds a lovely sense of mystery and action (hard to achieve both IMO) and his prose avoids cliches and is very readable. The action was explosive, brief and entertaining, but the main attraction for me was the way he moved the mystery on with clever clues and surprising developments.

As I enjoyed these parts and the book as a whole, I shouldn't moan too much, but the 2 weaknesses are the sheer implausibility of much of the plot (e.g., all of London's police get nowhere at all with the case, while the hero uncovers dozens of clues) and the fact that the main character is so unlikable: he lacks a moral compass and Harris didn't manage to build enough (any?) sympathy for him.

Anyway, in the round, I was gripped enough to read the book in just 3 sittings (rare for me) so it deserves 4 stars.
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on 11 May 2011
The Hollow Man is a page turning detective novel, yet it has the qualities of a thoroughly researched and carefully written literary novel. The protagonist, Nick Belsey, is well observed in his self destructive descent. He is also extremely likeable, I was cheering him on throughout. This novel will be the first in a new series that will do very well indeed.
I look forward to reading the next one.
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