Ash and Bone, by John Harvey

Frank Elder is a police inspector who's called back from his retirement in Cornwell to help with an investigation into the murder of a woman detective that he used to work with. At the same time, his daughter, from who he's been estranged since she was raped, appears to be getting into trouble since moving in with a guy who's got a reputation for drug-dealing.

At the time I read this book, I was also reading Night Frost, and so some of similarities between the books meant I sometimes had a bit of trouble working out which minor sub-plots belonged to each story. Because this book is a bit like a Frost book: the worlds are both rather bleak; policemen cynical, crimes unending and unpreventable: all that can be done is try and pick up the pieces in the aftermath and piece together what might have happened. But whatever you do, there's little happiness, and what there is is never unalloyed. Also, in both books there are several crimes going on at once, although it wasn't clear in this one whether they'd end up being linked.

As it happened, the story of Elder's daughter was a bit tedious: it seemed that Elder himself had been involved with the rape, or its aftermath, although the details of exactly what happened weren't made clear in this book (maybe there's another book that precedes this one - oh yes, amazon says it follows from "Flesh and Blood"). I think the book would have been better without this stuff: I guess it was meant to give a bit of back-story to Elder, and provide reasons for his troubled persona etc., but wasn't much good.

Without the daughter bit, the rest of the story was moderately ok, although I didn't enjoy it as much as the Frost book. Which is a bit strange: I think this was more "literary" and perhaps better written than the Frost, which seems in contrast to be a bit cliched. But this one was just not that entertaining.

Don't think I'll rush for more by this author, although I wouldn't rule him out completely.

Completed : 06-Mar-2009 (audiobook)

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