Friday, August 12, 2016

Review of Rough Treatment by John Harvey (1990, Arrow)

Grabianski and Grice meet up a few times a year, each time in a different city, and conduct a series of lucrative burglaries.  When they enter television director Harold Roy’s house to break into his safe they find something they weren’t anticipating, Maria, Roy’s wife.  Unexpectedly for Grabianski and Maria it's lust at first site.  Also of surprise is a kilo of cocaine.  When Maria reports the crime she decides to give a false description of the robbers.  When Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick investigates his instincts are piqued.  So is the real owner of the cocaine.  With patient persistence, Resnick and his team slowly make progress and if they’re lucky they’ll catch more than two professional thieves.

Rough Treatment is the second in the series of twelve police procedurals featuring Charlie Resnick.  What’s nice about this story is its everydayness rather than unusual or spectacular forms of crimes.  The focus is on catching two professional thieves that specialise in house burglaries.  The twist is that when they enter the house of television director Harold Roy they discover his wife, who one of the thieves takes a shine to, and a kilo of cocaine that belongs to someone else.  Rather than disappearing as usual the two thieves hang around, one starting an affair with Maria Roy and both trying to sell the cocaine back to the original owner.  While Harvey centres the story on Detective Inspector Resnick’s investigation and his stuttering, hesitant personal life, he also focuses on the interrelationships and politics of his whole team and wider station, adding context.  Into the mix he also adds the tensions of recording a television series, a fight within a Chinese restaurant dynasty, and a wayward superintendent’s daughter.  The result is an interlocking set of relatively low key, character-driven stories.  While the story lacks punch, it is nonetheless and entertaining slice of social realism.

1 comment:

Richard Robinson said...

Love Harvey's books, and especially Resnick. Nice review.