Far Cry
John Harvey
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Buy *Far Cry* by John Harvey online

Far Cry
John Harvey
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
512 pages
June 2010
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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Click here to read reviewer Michael Leonard's take on Far Cry or here for Sam Sattler's review.

Harvey has written a brilliant thriller, a complex mix of detective work and pedophilia with a few murders to ratchet up the tension. In 1995, Ruth and Simon Pierce allow their only child, Heather, to take a holiday on the Cornwall coast with a school chum with much trepidation. They never really expect the worst to happen, but it does. Heather and her friend go missing, and after a harrowing search, one girl is found alive, the other dead.

Ruth and Simon are devastated, their marriage unable to survive the loss of their daughter. While detective Trevor Cordon believes the girl died of foul play, his bosses decide otherwise. The case is closed. Years later, Ruth has remarried and given birth to Beatrice, who is nearly the same age as Heather was when she disappears as well. Ruth is left with the déjà vu of her worst nightmare: “If there is a hell, it’s now and here.”

In Cambridge, DI Will Grayson and DS Helen Walker have been on the trail of a pedophile whom both agree is responsible for a string of abductions and rapes, possibly even murder. The problem is the lack of substantial evidence. Before Grayson has enough evidence to put suspect Mitchell Roberts away, Roberts’ probation is timed out, the pedophile in the wind. Will is all but obsessed as he interviews one victim after another, the damage to the girls evident in their responses. When Beatrice disappears, Grayson and Walker come late to the realization that Ruth has suffered such a loss before, the department deluged with the usual calls of sightings and suspicions, Cordon’s phone call lost among the others.

A prolific writer, Harvey is particularly gifted in the depth of his characters, the subtle nuances of human behavior, compassion for the parents of young victims and the legacy of guilt they bear, and the drive of detectives who deal with such crimes all too frequently. From Roberts’ overburdened probation officer to the itinerant caravan travelers who shelter Roberts along the road, Harvey plumbs the hidden flaws of his characters - the crooked twists of personality, the secrets and shame, the flirtation with evil from the foolishly curious to the deeply depraved.

A devout family man, Grayson is the perfect foil to his sometimes truculent partner. Helen chafes for a promotion, engaged in a dodgy romance with a married detective that causes her to examine her choices and the darker side of attraction. Even sly Mitchell Roberts is bone-chillingly believable, his eyes lighting up with anticipation at the sight of a potential young victim. Will’s extraordinary wife, Lorraine, shines unexpectedly, but none more than the tortured Ruth, whose despair is palpable, the loss of Beatrice almost too painful to bear.

The plot is compelling, all too real, from Heather’s disappearance to Beatrice’s, a Dante’s Inferno of pedophiles, Internet pornographers and the industrious network that sustains this particular kind of evil. Far Cry is a brilliant mélange of humanity at its best and worst, the damaged and the damned and the mother who waits for word.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Luan Gaines, 2010

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