THE HARD DETECTIVE by H. R. F. Keating
St. Martin's Minotaur, May 2000
Harriet Martins is the hard detective. She's worked her way to the top of the police department in Birchester (England) by believing in right and wrong and sticking to the rules. Now, though, someone is threatening her department and Martins personally. Someone who believes in the old rules of right and wrong--literally exacting the Biblical justice from Exodus. An eye for an eye, a life for a life, a tooth for a tooth. The killer is exacting this bloody justice on the police department of Greater Birchester.
Although initially Martins sympathizes with the harsh justice outlined in the Bible, the killer's actions forces her to confront her own beliefs. Through the course of the novel, Martins gains additional insight into herself and the world around her, without giving up her basic belief that the world is a war between criminals and the police.
Martins' toughness and certainty is reverse mirrored by Dr. Peter Scholl, a profiler. Scholl (nicknamed Dr. Smellyfeet) can tell Martins a lot about the killer--what type of person this mysterious Mr. Man is, where he lives, and how he operates. Scholl is concerned about a world more complicated than that viewed by either Martins or the killer. Together, these two form a team that learns the killer's identity and nips at the killer's heels, but always seems a step behind.
THE HARD DETECTIVE is a compelling mystery. American readers will enjoy the authentic British atmosphere, the boarded-up factories that make up an important part of Birchester, the differences in police procedure from those in the U.S. Martins is an intriguing character. Initially her hardness and complete confidence that she is right are off-putting. Through the novel, however, Martins grows on the reader becoming a complete and complex character. (See more BooksForABuck.com reviews of mysteries by H. R. F. Keating).
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