Hitmen I Have Known
This novel goes back and forth in time, so readers need to pay close attention to details. At the end, the various subplots coalesce satisfyingly. Assistant Chief Constable Esther Davidson went undercover back in the day, and she remembers how frightened and vulnerable she felt. Now, she and other members of the Association of Chief Police Officers are attending a management course taught by people who have successfully infiltrated criminal organizations.
Esther is conflicted about sending anyone undercover, especially since she knows the high price of failure. However, she and her colleagues have made futile attempts to bring down the Cromax Turton Guild, a powerful enterprise run by crafty hoodlums who are guilty of theft, drug dealing, and murder.
Martlew plans to keep his eyes and ears open in an attempt to obtain evidence against the higher-ups that, if all goes well, will lead to a successful prosecution.
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ACC Desmond Iles makes cameo appearances. He has never gotten over losing one of his men in a botched undercover operation, and he has caustic words for England's toothless legal system. Iles is convinced that certain judges bend over backwards to protect the rights of homicidal thugs.
What make this book unusual and fascinating are the quirky verbal jousting, literary and cultural allusions, and philosophical discussions about morally questionable deeds. When speakers have something to hide, they obfuscate, change the subject, or pretend they haven't heard what was said. Some engage in subtle and not so subtle digs, make sarcastic remarks, and hurl insults at one another. Once in a while, there is a frank and civil conversation with a productive exchange of ideas. Along with an abundance of of black humor, "In the Absence of Iles" has passages of bitter irony and tragedy.
At least he author offers a sympathetic view of police officers who are determined to do better after falling on their faces. Someday, he implies, they might get it right. Here at Walmart. Your email address will never be sold or distributed to a third party for any reason.
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Review of Bill James's In Good Hands: A Harpur & Iles Mystery - prochetchafete.ml
I aimed to show two very highly placed officers who are committed to fighting crime, unbribable, but very fallible morally and socially. The books aim to shock and amuse by featuring two men who virtually run a police force but also conduct personal relationships in very unconventional, even dubious, ways. Higgins, for its dialogue and its subtle treatment of the fink situation. Harpur isn't above cutting corners himself, but Iles borders on being a psychopath.
So our "hero" faces the difficult choice of protecting an effective, if often illegal, weapon against crime or turning the department over to a man he knows will lose the war on crime to the criminals. In Good Hands opens in the aftermath of the murder of two crims who'd beaten the rap for killing a promising young policeman.
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Pretty much everyone assumes they were executed by Iles, whose mistress they'd also killed. Now Lane wants Harpur to spy on Iles and pin the killings on him. Meanwhile, two more underworld figures, Lester Magellan and Raoul Caesar Brace, have just been found murdered in nearly identical fashion. Though Iles doesn't appear to have a similar motive for vengeance, he's the most likely suspect. Of course, it could have been 'Panicking' Ralph Ember, whose 14 year-old daughter was having an affair with Brace, known to one and all as "the original nice guy.
This isn't the easiest series to join in the middle and James's writing style offers unique challenges to the reader anyway. The author famously relies on dialogue to drive his stories--a la Elmore Leonard--but often has the characters engage in near monologues, talking over each other and not answering each others' questions.
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Each book also assumes some considerable familiarity with the tangled histories between the cops, between the criminals, and between cops and criminals: like the fact that Harpur had an affair with Iles's wife and that Iles own taste for young girls has him currently chasing Harpur's daughter.