Monday, July 17, 2006

Harper & Iles Fight Crime -- and Each Other

That undersung British master of irony, Bill James (who once wrote a biography of Anthony Powell), has a hardcover -- WOLVES OF MEMORY -- just out. While you wait for that one, here's a new paperback treat. This is what I wrote when it first appeared:

Desmond Iles is in trouble, and that's enough to give a new jolt of energy to James's long-running series about the dapper, devious, demented Assistant Chief Constable of an unnamed British Midlands city and his colleague and primary antagonist, Chief of Detectives Colin Harpur. Here Iles faces two challenges: a tough new chief constable may replace his well-meaning but clueless boss Chief Constable Mark Lane and crush Iles like a bug; and one of the city's three top drug magnates is rumored to want Iles dead.

The titular young woman with the shapely rear is the 18-year-old daughter of a recently deceased "grass," or informer. Fascinated by teenage girls, Iles naturally finds himself attracted to her -- until she begins to respond favorably to his advances. Once again, it's James's darkly ironic writing that makes this series worth the padding and occasional plodding.