cover image Come Clean

Come Clean

Bill James. W. W. Norton & Company, $20 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-88150-243-5

This vibrant, pulsating novel is the latest in a series of crisp procedurals which nominally feature British copper Colin Harpur, but which are often usurped by a colorful array of secondary characters, most especially Harpur's Macchiavellian superior, Desmond Iles. In this fourth work, Iles's wife, Sarah, stumbles into the center of the action while slumming with her slightly criminal lover. A well-known, big-time criminal is poised to take out a rival and his family at an upcoming wedding. Naturally, the plans are top secret; naturally, the other side knows of them. Naturally, the police soon pick up some ominous rumors. Harpur is aware of Sarah's activities and, being no stranger to extramarital dalliances himself, pursues the path of discretion. Once again, James advances the plot almost entirely through dialogue. His trick of slipping gallows humor and threats of shocking violence into idiom-laden, quotidian discourse works wonderfully here, especially when Iles starts to learn the truth and begins to suffer an unhinging emotional slow burn. Previous Harpur novels include Halo Parade and Protection. (Feb.)