Wednesday, October 29, 2008

REVIEW: The Take

Title: The Take
Author: Graham Hurley
ISBN: 0752848070/Orion/387 pages
Protagonist: Detective Inspector Joe Faraday
Setting: present-day Portsmouth, England
Series: #2
Rating: A-

First Line: Another grey summer's day, spitting with rain.

DI Joe Faraday has come to terms with his deaf son growing up and moving to France to work and to live with a French woman. Joe's taking French lessons so he'll be able to converse with Valerie, and the lessons even seem to be improving his own social life. But while his personal life improves, it's the end of a grim week for the Portsmouth CID squad. One of Faraday's colleagues is killed in a head-on car crash; DC Paul Winter has been poleaxed with his own terrible news; a disgraced gynecologist is missing, and his caseload of maimed women is a suspect list from hell. To top it all off, Faraday's boss has his eye on bigger and better things and insists that Faraday lend a helping hand. It all reminds me of a t-shirt I once gave to a friend: "Some mornings, it's not worth chewing through the restraints."

I enjoyed the first book in the series, Turnstone, and The Take is even better. As a police procedural it's strong, giving the reader an excellent idea of the inner workings of a police station and the personal dynamics between various officers and departments. All the plot elements are intriguing, from the personal lives of Faraday and Winter, to the investigation of the colleague killed in the head-on collision, to the hunt for the gynecologist. The setting of Portsmouth is excellent, and I could easily picture it in my mind. (Google Earth can give you a marvelous view, too. If you've got it, type in "Portsmouth Harbour UK" and have a good look around!)

Hurley's characterizations are what puts this series a step above so many others. I enjoyed watching Faraday's mind work--not only on his caseload, but on his personal life as it took an unexpected lively turn. Having been a widower who concentrated on raising a deaf son, he's used to having no real social life. DC Paul Winter is another character who really stands out in the books. The only time the man is ever honest is when he's forced to be, and even then you can't really believe him. Those two characters alone are an excellent study in contrast.

If you're in the mood to start a new mystery series, you certainly can't go wrong with Graham Hurley!

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