Pix: More dark, gorgeous prose from Bill James
Beyond this, the novel revisits a number of characters and situations from earlier novels: The evasive cross-talk between Harpur and his supervisor, Iles. The vital informant Jack Lamb, fond of grand gestures, nighttime meetings and military trappings. Another probing, insistent woman who worries all with harrying, dangerous, occasionally effective prodding of the police to find her villainous, disappeared, perhaps dead boyfriend.
Mostly, though, there is James' prose, dark, funny, baroquely gorgeous, unequalled in crime fiction and perhaps elsewhere as well:
"`The house — in a poor state? Some intrusion? Is that what you're saying, Manse?'or
"`You know the state it's in, you sodding smarm prince,' Shale replied. `You know about intrusions.'"
"`These are instinctive with me, Harpur —humanity and perception.'Here is a Bill James bibliography. Books seven through sixteen in the Harpur & Iles series, Astride a Grave through Eton Crop, may be the finest sustained piece of storytelling in all of crime fiction. Here's an interview with James from Crimespree Magazine to read before you go shopping for the books. And you will, I hope, do that shopping.
"`Anyone can see those in your face, sir.'
"`I do notice people in here staring at me, perhaps reading those qualities.'
"`No, that's because most of them recognize and hate us, sir.'
"`You more, because of rank,' Harpur said.
"Iles smiled, gratified. `But undercurrents, Col.'"
© Peter Rozovsky 2008
Harpur & Iles