cover image You'd Better Believe It

You'd Better Believe It

Bill James. St. Martin's Press, $12.95 (157pp) ISBN 978-0-312-89683-6

The seamy, precarious alliances between the English police and their informants""narcs''set the tone for this gritty novel. It's difficult to see who has the upper hand in the relationship between Detective Chief Superintendent Harpur, a seasoned and cynical master at bending the rules, and his narc, Jack Lamb, a smooth, high-living crook who is always ready to implicate Harpur in his own shady deals. Harpur tolerates Lamb's arrogance because of the wealth of information he has to offer, but things go too far when a seemingly routine investigation goes sour, leaving two informants dead and Brian Avery, Harpur's inexperienced new partner, missing. Soon Avery is found murdered and Harpur seeks information from Lamb, but he is nowhere to be found. Matters get more complicated when Avery's widow does some sleuthing of her own, but it is not until Harpur plunges into the depths of the criminal underworld that Lamb emerges. The pace is swift and the action bluntly violent in this satisfying caper. January 28