The last of the remaining houses in the old Nottinghamshire mining town of Bledwell Vale are at last being demolished, thirty years after the miner’s strike ended. In one of the gardens a JCB unearths a skeleton. Charlie Resnick worked intelligence on the strike thirty years ago and thinks he knows who it is but he’s a civilian investigator now and assigned to a different case. Luckily DI Catherine Njoroge needs help and she knows Charlie. Now they and their small team need to try and find out who killed Jenny Hardwick. They might not like what they find.
I have never read a Charlie Resnick novel before, but I lived in Nottinghamshire in the 1990s and worked in Sutton-in-Ashfield, so I know what the collapse of the pits did to the local area. It appears to me that John Harvey captures that feeling of despair and desolation perfectly; an era when families were pitted against each other and everyone was just doing all they could to survive. Resnick is a character who would fit well into that scenario and he, as well as the other cast of characters in the book, are brought to life by evocative descriptions of where they are as well as how they are behaving.
I did wonder whether the novel might be a bit depressing and I suppose it was really, but only as depressing as the story called for and not an iota more. I am very glad that John Harvey decided not to kill Resnick off at the end because I think that would have been a gloomy scenario too far, and I think what actually did happen was far more fitting for the type of book this is.
All in all, I did really enjoy reading this novel and I will now definitely go back to the beginning to see where Charlie Resnick came from. I have happily read this last one first though and have not been disadvantaged so I am sure they can be read as stand-alones if necessary.