Darkness And Light book review by freelance writer Chris High

Chris High reviews 'Darkness And Light' on www.chrishigh.com


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Publisher: William Heinemann
ISBN: 0-434-01445-1
April 24 2006

Front cover of the book by John Harvey - Darkness And Light

John Harvey

Following on from the incredibly successful Flesh And Blood and Ash And Bone, Frank Elder returns for a third time in this, John Harvey's latest novel, Darkness And Light, and immediately poses the question: why didn't Frank stay where he was and save himself the unrelenting drama of that which befalls him? That's not say we shouldn't be grateful, because this is a truly wonderful novel written by a master of his craft.


She wore a gold dress, short-sleeved, its skirt full-length and slightly flared. He could see the faint indentation on her left hand, a pale circle of skin giving away the fact that, until recently, a wedding ring had been there. She looked peaceful, lying there on the bed, her arms resting easily together, the left hand on the right, a slender silver cross and chain encircling her neck, and not a wrinkle, not a fold of her dress out of place. And, perhaps, she truly was at peace; after all, she was dead. The sight that greeted Detective Inspector Frank Elder on his first case with the Serious Crimes Unit was never solved, no one was ever charged and the murderer never found; at liberty to kill again. Eight years later, Elder's estranged wife contacts him in his Cornish hideaway. Her friend's sister Claire - a quiet and withdrawn widow in her fifties - has mysteriously disappeared. Elder, reluctantly, agrees to dig around and see what he can find. Then Claire is found, dead, arranged with meticulous detail on her bed, and it doesn't take long for Elder to make the connection. It's obviously the work of the same unbalanced individual and, to find the killer, Elder must shine a light into the darkest recesses of human behaviour.

Written with great panache, Darkness And Light crackles from first page to last with tension and intrigue. The style in which the novel is written makes the reader immediately comfortable with the characters and so lends a sense of natural empathy with those playing out their roles. Elder, the reluctant expert haunted by his past who merely wants to salvage enough to have a future, is a masterpiece in as much as he is so real. The plot, the dialogue and the atmosphere are all quite superb, whereas the setting, Nottingham, lends a uniqueness to proceedings that is both refreshing and intriguing. The character interactions are so believable it is as though as readers we are being invited to listen in on private telephone conversations as the more than credible storyline unfolds reach to a deeply sinister and tantalising conclusion.
Darkness And Light is, quite simply, superb and should be read by anybody who has even the slightest regard for fine writing.

FREE TO ENTER COMPETITION: To win one of three sets of the Frank Elder series signed by John Harvey, click here.

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Order this book online - Linghams Booksellers



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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