cover image Wasted Years: A Charlie Resnick Mystery

Wasted Years: A Charlie Resnick Mystery

John Harvey. Henry Holt & Company, $19.95 (339pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-2044-1

This exacting examination of English urban life masquerading as police procedural owes much to the bruising kitchen-sink dramas of the 1950s by Alan Sillitoe, Keith Waterhouse et al. In his fifth appearance (after Off Minor ), the divorced, cat-loving, jazz-addicted inspector Charlie Resnick continues to trudge through the cold streets of an England adrift in celluloid-induced violence and American-style fast food (bastardized as only the cuisine-cursed British are capable of). A series of violent armed robberies are being committed in Nottingham by two groups. One team is clever; their counterparts are clearly a couple of teenaged yobs--one terrified and the other memorably vicious--who are rapidly becoming both more professional and more deadly. All this coincides with the early parole of another criminal anxious to settle a score with his informant wife and the cop she slept with. For his part, Charlie drifts back through the years, recalling the events leading up to his own marriage and its gradual dissolution in an unspoken, uneventful mist. By now Harvey's economy of prose is a given, as is his ability to pull together the many composite parts--the interlocking crimes, the boozing, infidelity and Resnick's very human bunch of underlings--that make a Charlie Resnick mystery such satisfying reading. No wasted time here. (June)