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The Five Best Resnicks

When a good crime series comes to an end it is an immeasurably sad thing. As a reader, saying goodbye to a well-loved character can feel as painful as losing a friend. You’ve heard their innermost thoughts, their character traits and reactions are like a well-worn much-loved comforter. This is true in the most grisly of crime books as the characters, the detectives or amateur sleuths are often the one steadfast point in that series so it is with a heavy heart that we turn to the last book to feature DI Charlie Resnick.

To mark this occasion as Darkness, Darkness by John Harvey hits the shelves we’ve asked mega-fan Michael Carlson to list his top five of the Resnick series.

Over to Michael:

The Five Best Resnicks

If you’re coming to Darkness, Darkness as your first Resnick, I envy you, because you have the whole series to work through. I’d go beginning to end, without waiting a year at a time for the first ten, then ten years for the next, but if you insist on the highlights, try these five:

1. Lonely Hearts (1989)

The first, and still one of the best. Introduces and establishes his unique character in a novel that the Times called one of the 100 best crime novels of the century. It’s the book where Harvey finally relaxed from his feverish pace of writing, and gave his characters and setting more depth, and the result was stunning.

2. Wasted Years (1993)

In which a series of brutal robberies for Charlie to face events from ten years before: an incident he’d tried to forget, and a marriage he’d lost.

3. Still Water (1997)

Perhaps the best illustration of the way Harvey uses the criminal investigation to mirror the lives of his characters. A woman’s body found floating in a Nottingham canal reminds Resnick of a similar killing that dragged him from a Milt Jackson concert many years before. And the nature of the sex crimes reflects the relationship problems of some of the detectives involved.

4. Last Rites (1998)

In its own way more elegiac than Darkness, Darkness, as Resnick deals with two drug gangs involved in a turf war, and pursues an escaped murderer, and tries to protect his sister. It’s a novel about the things love forces us to do, and about the loss of such love.

5. Darkness, Darkness (2014)

Alone after the death of his partner Lynn, Resnick is presented with a thirty-year old murder which took place in the midst of the violent chaos of the miner’s strike, forcing him to revisit those times while trying to solve the murder today.

And if you have already read Darkness, Darkness, then treat yourself to at least one non-Resnick novel: In A True Light (2001), the story of Sloane, an art forger, which encompasses abstract expressionism, jazz, family relations, and a man finding himself all in one perfectly formed novel.

by Michael Carlson

Find out more about what makes John Harvey so special over on Windmill Books.

1 Comment

    Interesting to read another fans favourite list; personally I’d trade Lonely Hearts and Still Water for Off Minor and Easy Meat. For me the series didn’t really hit it’s stride until Cutting Edge and I actually prefer the TV version of the first book to it’s source. I also think the many excellent short stories are also worth a mention.

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