John Harvey, Far Cry

May 25, 2010

John Harvey’s latest work, Far Cry, would have been a shoe-in for the July (expanded coverage) Whodunit column in BookPage (, and quite possibly Mystery of the Month as well, but for one thing: all of the writers featured will be women, and judging by the author’s picture on the back cover, it seems highly unlikely that he is a member of the fairer sex.   

British cops Will Grayson and Helen Walker, first featured in Harvey’s 2008 novel Gone to Ground, are back, this time in search of a young girl gone missing. The case has chilling ramifications, even more than is usual in this sort of situation, in that a) a convicted pedophile has just been paroled from prison, and subsequently has disappeared off the police radar, and b) the mother of the missing child lost her first daughter in the same manner a number of years before.

Grayson in particular is more than a bit obsessed with Mitchell Roberts, the convicted pedophile he helped put away. Roberts was sentenced to five years in prison, and served less than half, having convinced the parole board that he was rehabilitated. Grayson is not as easily persuaded. On the one hand, mounting evidence suggests the abduction of the girl might have been an “inside job”, perhaps the parents or a family friend; on the other hand, there are strong indications (but nothing admissible in a court of law) that Roberts is once again illicitly pursuing young girls. Grayson means to stop him in his tracks, even if it might involve stepping outside the strict limitations of the law.

Like every one of John Harvey’s books that preceded it, Far Cry is a taut thriller, populated with believable characters, a book that demands to be read in one sitting. At 512 pages, that is no easy feat, granted, but if you do put it down in mid-read, I guarantee that you will be eagerly looking forward to the moment when you can pick it up once again.