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by Graham Hurley
Orion, January 2006
352 pages
ISBN: 0752851004

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I bet the police adore Graham Hurley's books for the warts and all portrayal of 21st century policing. The plotting is meticulous, but blimey, he could think of the poor reader occasionally!

Hurley's books tend towards the slow, and BLOOD AND HONEY is no exception. And it's pretty much one of those linear plots where we start at A when the body is found and plod through conscientiously to a very distant Z when Plod slaps the handcuffs on the baddie.

Don't get me wrong, it's a series worth reading, though. It's always been particularly strong on its south coast of the UK setting, with the books taking place in and around Portsmouth. I read the book on a recent trip to the area, and thought about the central character, DI Joe Faraday, as I lay on the bed in my hotel room and watched the ferries leaving Portsmouth for the Isle of Wight.

Faraday is one of those crime fiction creations I can take or leave. He's a good cop, a decent human being, but veers towards the unmemorable. The only things I ever remember about him between books are that he has a deaf son and that he is a dedicated birdwatcher.

DC Paul Winter is quite another matter, though. At first glance he's the archetypal dinosaur from another age of policing. But he's more than capable of carrying the plot single-handed. I much preferred his sections in BLOOD AND HONEY where he's struggling with blinding headaches and an unsuitable attachment to the enigmatic high-class prostitute Maddox.

The two plots rarely if ever touch, which is faintly bizarre at times. Faraday spends his time shuttling between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight as he and his team struggle to solve the mystery of a headless body found at the bottom of cliffs on the island (which perks up the birdwatcher in Faraday!)

They also try to track down a young delivery driver who has disappeared, and to work out just what the explosive former soldier Pelly, who runs an old people's home with his Bosnian wife, has to do with it all.

Winter, meanwhile, has to balance his relationship with Maddox and the investigations into a group of leading businessmen. Everything seems to lead him back to the call girl's elegant flat.

BLOOD AND HONEY is definitely worth a read, thanks to that neat plotting, extensive research into what makes the police tick, and a number of complex characters, including Pelly and Maddox. Just don't expect Hurley to transport you there at hovercraft speed. This is more like the ferry!

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, January 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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