Good Bait by John Harvey

John Harvey’s new novel is a fast paced story about two parallel cases, both related to a vast criminal underworld in London.  The main story is Chief Inspector Karen Shields’ investigation into the death of a young immigrant found in a frozen pond on Hampstead Heath.    The more Shields looks into the case, the more complicated it becomes.   Another murder in the same area seems to involve some of the same people, and Shields is suddenly called to the office of superior officer to discuss the crimes with a major task force.  Shields and her team can’t determine if the young man’s murder is related to the suddenly escalating violent incidents between rival gangs in the neighborhood, or if there is a more personal element.

The other case is an unofficial one.  Detective Trevor Cordon has come to London from Cornwall out of a sense of guilt.  Maxine, a woman he had arrested many times, asked for his help locating her daughter, Letitia.  Cordon had tried to help Letitia out in the past by giving her a job, but tells Maxine there is nothing he can do this time.  So Maxine goes to London herself.  Now Cordon hears Maxine was killed by a train and no one knows whether she fell, was pushed, or committed suicide.  Cordon decides to track down Letitia and make sure she is okay.  The trouble is he is not the only person looking for her.  Cordon’s case will eventually cross with Shields’ investigation in an unexpected way.

I enjoyed this book, although at times it was difficult to keep the characters straight.  But this actually makes it seem more realistic since the real world is rarely as neat as detective novels.  Also, Harvey is good at the details of police organizations and investigations and his characters are as interesting as the plot lines. What makes a woman born in Jamaica become an officer in the British police force?  Why would Cordon feel ties to this particular child, and not the children of other folks he has run across in the course of his job?  Fans of Harvey’s other series’ will enjoy this new book, as will fans of British mysteries.

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