New detective novels from John Harvey and Anthony Horowitz shine.
John Harvey, best known for his nonpareil Charlie Resnick detective novels, wraps up another first-class series with “Body & Soul” (Pegasus, 304 pp., $25.95) with a new protagonist, Frank Elder. Elder’s markedly unlike Resnick. Like Resnick, Elder was once a Nottingham police detective, but unlike the former, Elder is quick-tempered — not introspective and deliberate — and relatively indifferent to music.
He’s also been estranged from his 20-something, emotionally fragile daughter, Katherine. When she pays a rare visit, he notices cuts on her wrists. She refuses to talk about them and abruptly returns to London. Elder investigates, only to find that she is grieving the end of an affair with a famous but unsavory and much older artist, Anthony Winter.
When he travels to London and attends the painter’s latest show, Elder sees a series of disturbing, sexually provocative images of Katherine. He explodes and punches Winter; when the artist is bludgeoned to death soon after, Elder has an alibi but Katherine becomes a prime suspect.
Harvey’s taut, fast-paced plotting and lean prose lead to a heartbreaking climax. “Body and Soul” is both a top-notch procedural and a powerful tale of a gulf between a father and daughter — and the ties that can bind them together.
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Meanwhile, James Bond is the subject of Anthony Horowitz’s “Forever and a Day” (HarperCollins, 304 pp., $26.99), a shrewd and thoroughly entertaining yarn authorized by the estate of Bond creator Ian Fleming.
The versatile Horowitz has written authorized books about Sherlock Holmes and others, and here spins a fragment of Fleming’s writing into a splendid prequel to the Bond canon. It’s 1950, and the spy has just been promoted to Double-O status, replacing a murdered agent. The newly minted 007 is assigned to avenge his predecessor and break up a crime syndicate in the swank French Riviera. Enter your requisite sexy (albeit somewhat liberated) dame, Sixtine, your ruthless crime kingpin, Scipio, and your CIA sidekick, Reade Griffith.
Horowitz sticks close to old-school Bond, and overall the spy remains a two-fisted force of nature — utterly suave, worldly and able to bounce back from even the most brutal of beatings. Nonetheless, the author has great fun occasionally subverting classic Bond tropes. Example: His sly explanations regarding Bond’s famous preferences in martinis and cigarettes.