They’re back…GIRLS, by Bill James

November 24, 2007 at 2:49 am (Book review, books, Mystery fiction, The British police procedural)

girls.jpg jamesfoto.jpg Oh, they’re back all right, the whole merry crew – at least, those who’ve managed to survive the murder and mayhem of the last several books in the series. On the law and order side, there’s Superintendent Colin Harpur and ACC Desmond Iles. They have, of necessity, a close working relationship, but it’s one that’s complicated by several factors. Iles lusts openly after Harpur’s 15-year-old daughter Hazel, while Harpur has, in the past, bedded Iles’s wife Sarah.

Actually Hazel Harpur is at the center of the drama in Girls because her boyfriend Scott Grant might be mixed up in a criminal enterprise. Despite all the craziness and inverted value systems on full display in this novel, as well as in all the others in this series, Harpur’s concern for his older daughter’s welfare rings absolutely true. That said, however, it’s Hazel’s younger sister Jill who gets the best lines. Here she is, engaging in flights of literary criticism while trying to explain to her father the nature of Hazel’s attachment to Scott:

” She’s worried. She’s scared for Scott, isn’t she? All right, you’ll say, Just a kid romance. But think of Romeo and Juliet. William Shakespeare. Many plays. This is also something I get at school.Don’t tell me they was old, Romeo and Juliet. And yet this was real love, bringing death. That’s why the play is what’s known as a tragedy, although they were young. The comedies of William Shakespeare are not comedies. They don’t make you laugh, only groan. But the tragedies are tragic and plenty of deads.”

Chief representatives of the criminal class are Mansel Shale and Ralph W. Ember. In addition to being a highly successful drug supplier, Ralph also owns a club called the Monty. He has high aspirations, does Ralph Ember, for both the club, his family, and himself. He wants the Monty attract a better class of clientele. In fact, he hopes one day to cut mob ties altogether and go legit. He currently lives in a country house, Low Pastures, which, being several hundred years old, possesses real lineage. He sends his daughters to a tony private school. He himself has been enrolled as a Mature Student at the local university. (He’s currently on leave from his pursuit of a degree there, however, while he and Mansel Shale sort out problems having to do with turf wars and outside “firms” muscling in on their extremely lucrative drug trade.)

Wacky behavior on the part of both the police and the crooks and bizarre dialog on everyone’s part are what sets this series apart. Situations arise that are both highly dangerous and completely outrageous. Outcomes are, for the most part, unpredictable. Each book is a wild ride, full of fun and menace.

1 Comment

  1. Pix, by Bill James « Books to the Ceiling said,

    […] –  and thanks to the folks at Desperate Housewives for that locution! – I’ve reviewed Girls, Wolves of Memory, and The Girl with the Long […]

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