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by Graham Hurley
Orion, February 2009
352 pages
9.99 GBP
ISBN: 0752868853

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A new book from Graham Hurley is a very welcome treat. You'll need to set aside a long weekend to devote to it, though, as it's not a quick, throwaway read.

Hurley's police procedurals, set in the south coast British city of Portsmouth, are bleak, dark and meticulously researched. Every inch of the case is covered, and the reader lives each success and failure with DI Joe Faraday and his team.

Nine books into the series, and Hurley is developing a compelling angle alongside the police investigation. Former DC Paul Winter has thrown in his lot with Portsmouth's Mr Big, Bazza Mackenzie. This is the man who keeps a psycho ex-soccer player on his books to do his dirty work, and has tentacles reaching out onto every housing estate and dodgy business.

In effect, Winter works as a PI during NO LOVELIER DEATH. A house is trashed during a gate-crashed party in one of Portsmouth's posher suburbs, and two teenagers are found dead by a swimming pool in next door's garden. The posh house belongs to a controversial judge, one of the youngsters is the daughter and the next-door neighbour is Bazza Mackenzie.

As always, though, Winter carries the book, as he tries to find out who dragged his boss into the mess. Faraday is somewhat in the background as he struggles to deal with a careerist boss, a superior officer with an eye for the headlines, a list of suspects as long as the English Channel and an anthropologist girlfriend with a talent for finding trouble on Portsmouth's rough estates.

Portsmouth itself plays a starring role in Hurley's books. It's not a fancy place it's claustrophobic and menacing. The action criss-crosses the city from the likes of Mackenzie and their new money to the council estates and scruffy terraces. And NO LOVELIER DEATH paints a pessimistic picture of crime out of control.

Hurley's world is so real and his creations so vivid that you feel like you'd meet them walking down any street in Portsmouth. And he proves again that he's one of the best crime writers around.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, April 2009

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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