First Line: She hadn't thought of him for a long time.
Ever since I started focusing on mysteries, I would see people praise John Harvey's Charlie Resnick series. Although I didn't do anything about it for a few years, I did file that praise away in one of my mental lumber rooms, and now I've read the first in the series to see if the praise was deserved. Even though it's only the first in the series, I think Lonely Hearts has set the stage for many hours of reading pleasure to come.
Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick is a bit battered and world weary. Divorced and overweight, a middle-aged lover of food, cats, and jazz, he takes all of his cases to heart, feeling compassion for the victims and rage for the perpetrators. One of his cases (involving child abuse) has gone to the courts, and Resnick finds himself with two murder victims. After investigating both, it turns out that their only tie is that both women had placed an ad in a local "Lonely Hearts" column. Will Resnick find the killer before any more women are found dead in Nottingham?
Although Lonely Hearts was written twenty years ago, it didn't feel dated, other than having more references to smoking and a lack of cell phones. Resnick is shown as not only having great compassion toward people but also great rage, as when he interviews a suspect he believes to be guilty. (Anyone watching me read this scene would tell you that I resemble the proverbial deer in the headlights. Whoa!) Having come fresh from reading Dog On It, it was nice to see that Resnick's cats (Dizzy, Miles, Pepper and Bud) didn't have a single thought to share with anyone. Their lives consisted of eating, twining around human feet and sleeping-- usually on top of Resnick's head or curled around his neck.
The characterizations in the book were very strong, and the identity of the killer I found particularly baffling. The only quibble I have with this book is that, once the possible killer is mentioned, the action begins to snowball, gaining more and more speed until the end, which felt very rushed. But that's a small complaint. With the cast of characters Harvey introduced me to in Lonely Hearts, I'm looking forward to making my way through this series and savoring each book.
I found this book very difficult to read and I am no novice when reading British police procedurals. Several times I had to reread sections sure I had missed a paragraph explaining what the characters were talking about. Unfortunately, I had missed nothing. Expecting a mystery/police procedural, the story really was more like a strange romance first, mystery second (or 3rd). Very odd & abrupt end to story. Not always a bad thing, but it was very unsatisfactory in this case.
Divorced and overweight, a middle-aged lover of food, cats and jazz, Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick takes all of his cases to heart-feeling compasion for the victims and rage for the perpetrators. Now two murders have occurred in his district in the north of England-a pair of luckless, single women whose only connection was shared interes in the Lonely Hearts column of a local paper.