Today I’m thrilled to be joining the blog tour for Body and Soul the final Frank Elder novel from author John Harvey. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour and to the publisher for providing an advance copy of the book for review. Before I tell you my thoughts on the book, let’s see what it’s all about.
About the Book
From the master of British Crime Writing comes Frank Elder’s last case.
‘The heavy manacles around the girl’s wrists, perhaps not surprisingly, looked very much like the ones that had been found on the studio floor. For a moment, she had a vision of the chain to which they were attached being swung through the air, taking on force and speed before striking home.Then swung again.’
When his estranged daughter Katherine appears on his doorstep, ex-Detective Frank Elder knows that something is wrong.
Katherine has long been troubled, and Elder has always felt powerless to help her.
But now Katherine has begun to self-destruct.
The breakdown of her affair with a controversial artist has sent her into a tailspin which culminates in murder.
And as Elder struggles to protect his daughter and prove her innocence, the terrors of the past threaten them both once more …
First things first – some housekeeping matters. This is my first Frank Elder (or even John Harvey) book and it is the last in the series. Because of this, the book contains some pretty hefty spoilers for earlier events in the series so you may wish to start at the beginning which, according to Julie Andrews, is a very good place to start. Now if you haven’t read any other books, enough back ground is given to put everything that happens in this book into context, but again – spoilers. Just so you know.
That aside, I have to say I really enjoyed this book. Like, really enjoyed it. It is relatively short, less than 300 pages, so a relatively quick read but I found that once I had started I didn’t want to stop and I raced through in a single afternoon. John Harvey has created an compelling, or even engrossing, read which drew me in from the off and didn’t spit me out until the end. Now even though this was my first outing with Frank and co, the ending left me reeling and in shock. I was so invested in them all I wasn’t prepared to it one little bit. Big emotional impact which is likely to be amplified the more you know the characters within.
The book starts in an innocuous enough way – Frank preparing for a visit from his estranged daughter. When she arrives it is very clear something has happened, something very serious, and it is partly the unravelling of this event which informs the remainder of the story. His daughter Katherine has been involved with an older man, an affair which ends in a very stark and damaging way. Now parts of her story are hard to read as Katherine has suffered heavy emotional and physical abuse, something which is exploited in this story. Nothing in the text is overly graphic, but you are left in no doubt as to the impact this has all had upon the characters.
John Harvey has excelled in creating setting and atmosphere, contrasting the highly urbanised city setting of Katherine’s home life to the extremely rural and laid back existence her father now leads. Tension is built so successfully that you feel you could cut it with a knife and the ends of those particular threads of story could ping back violently, possibly even taking your eye out. You can feel every bit of emotion from Katherine, the confusion of her position and the anger of her father, Frank. In spite of only meeting him this first time, I grew very attached to Frank, there is just something about him which leads you to like and trust him. It has certainly made me want to go back and read those first books, although if this is anything to go by, I think they could be very hard reads.
If you are a fan of the series you won’t be disappointed. If you are new to it … well this is a fabulous read and can work as a standalone, just prepare to be shocked by what happens. Perhaps some of it is expected, anticipated even, but John Harvey has more than the off surprise to throw at you as a reader, secrets carefully buried and only revealed when the time is right. Extremely compelling stuff. Loved it.
Body and Soul was published on 19th April and is available form the following retailers:
About the Author
John Harvey was born in London, where he now lives, while considering Nottingham his spiritual home. Initially a teacher of English & Drama, he has been a full-time writer for more than forty years. The first of his 12 volume Charlie Resnick series, Lonely Hearts was
selected by The Times as one of the ‘100 Best Crime Novels of the Century’ and the first Frank Elder novel, Flesh and Blood, won the CWA Silver Dagger in 2004. He was awarded the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in the crime genre in 2007, and his story, ‘Fedora’ won the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2014.
In addition to writing fiction, he has written and published poetry, running Slow Dancer Press for over twenty years; his Out of Silence: New & Selected Poems was published in 2014. He has adapted the work of Arnold Bennett, A. S. Byatt, Graham Greene and others for radio and television, and in 2017, his dramatisation of the final Resnick novel, Darkness, Darkness, was produced at Nottingham Playhouse. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Hertfordshire and Nottingham. See mellotone.co.uk Follow John Harvey on Twitter #Body&Soul
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