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Darkness and Light (Frank Elder Series #3)

Darkness and Light (Frank Elder Series #3)

5.0 1
by John Harvey, Otto Penzler

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Former cop Frank Elder is drawn out of retirement when his ex-wife asks him to look into the disappearance of her friend Jennie’s sister Claire in Nottingham. Elder reluctantly returns to the city where his family disintegrated.

Elder uncovers sexual secrets of Claire’s that take Jennie by surprise. But when Claire is found dead at


Former cop Frank Elder is drawn out of retirement when his ex-wife asks him to look into the disappearance of her friend Jennie’s sister Claire in Nottingham. Elder reluctantly returns to the city where his family disintegrated.

Elder uncovers sexual secrets of Claire’s that take Jennie by surprise. But when Claire is found dead at home—unmarked and carefully dressed—it is Elder who is surprised by the similarities to an old case. To solve this riddle, Elder will have to repartner with Detective Inspector Maureen Prior and delve into several suspects’ traumatic histories.

In a case in which neither memories, confessions, nor instincts can be trusted, Elder struggles with the weight of the past and Harvey delivers another psychologically trenchant page-turner.

Editorial Reviews

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"Like all Harvey's work, Darkness and Light is alive with interesting characters from all parts of society and is beautifully plotted and paced."
Seattle Times

"The latest in Harvey’s emotionally acute, often heartbreaking new series."
From the Publisher


"It’s such a joy to kick back and savor the latest effort by one of the true masters of the genre . . . Copper Frank Elder . . . proves to be an affecting and memorable protagonist once more."—THE BALTIMORE SUN

"Emotionally acute, often heartbreaking."—THE SEATTLE TIMES

Washington Post

"The bonus, in this well-crafted police procedural, is the occasional elegance of Harvey's writing."
Wall Street Journal

"Full of sharp and poetic sketches . . . swiftly paced."
New York Daily News

"The relentless hunt for a killer that got away from him before. And might again."
Baltimore Sun

"One of the true masters of the genre."
Arizona Republic

"A satisfying look at the twists and turns of police work, through a man who can't quite leave his former life behind."
Patrick Anderson
Even as Elder interviews these men, he is trying to reestablish communication with his college-age daughter, whose abduction and rape a few years earlier he thinks he should have prevented. He's also wondering if he should have forgiven his ex-wife for the affair that caused him to end their marriage. Both challenges, personal and professional, are credibly resolved. The bonus, in this well-crafted police procedural, is the occasional elegance of Harvey's writing.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In Harvey's engaging third British procedural to feature retired policeman Frank Elder (after 2005's Ash & Bone), Elder grudgingly agrees to try to find Claire Meecham, the older, widowed sister of a friend of his ex-wife's. While poking through the missing woman's Nottingham bungalow, Elder finds nothing untoward other than evidence that Claire was not quite so uninterested in sex, and possible new relationships, as her younger sister believed. Soon after, Elder is surprised when Claire turns up in her home dead, looking at peace, carefully dressed and laid out in the manner of a woman who met a similar fate years earlier-and whose killer was never caught. Elder's probe of this murder leads him down several blind alleys even as it forces him to re-examine uncomfortable aspects of his own past. Fans of PBS's Mystery will find Harvey's novel, with its scattering of contemporary English slang, a genial read. (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Seattle Times
"The latest in Harvey’s emotionally acute, often heartbreaking new series."

Library Journal
Claire Meecham has been missing for a week when Frank Elder's ex-wife calls him for help in finding her. Frank, retired from the Nottingham police and now living in Cornwall, is reluctant to return, but he does in the hopes of seeing his estranged daughter. Claire is found strangled, and the case reminds Elder of a similar murder he investigated. To solve the crime, he is asked to work with his former sergeant, Maureen Prior. What had begun as a deceptively simple disappearance turns into a complex story of psychological motivation and hatred. Devotees of British police procedurals will demand this. Harvey, author of the much-acclaimed Charlie Resnick novels (Resnick makes a cameo appearance here) and two other Frank Elder books (Flesh & Blood), has won a number of awards, including the British Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger Award. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A favor for his ex takes retired cop Frank Elder from Cornwall to Nottingham. He could have refused her, but Frank Elder once more does what his ex-wife asks, this time helping out her friend Jennie, whose widowed sister Claire Meecham had gone missing. Middle-aged, conventional, still grieving for her husband after five years, Claire was not one to scamper away. Frank checks in with his old mates at the Major Crime Unit, now called the Force Crime Directorate, but they have nothing to add. Though he does find a few revelatory bits-a sexy photo and a sex toy hidden in Claire's bureau, log-ins to online dating services-Frank is stymied. Then Claire's body suddenly appears, strangled in her own bed. Viewing the corpse with DI Maureen Prior, Frank harks back to his very first case, the murder of Irene Fowler eight years ago, which went unsolved. The similarities, including the perversely respectful way the bodies were left, suggest a single killer. Prior's squad trawls through the old files for clues while Frank, an unpaid consultant, concentrates on interviewing the men Claire found online until he uncovers a fatal link between the victims. Yes, Charlie Resnick makes a cameo appearance, but Frank (Ash & Bone, 2005, etc.), with his guilt, his regrets, his worrisome relationships with his wife and daughter, is surely developing his own fan base and giving both Charlie and John Rebus a run for their money.

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Frank Elder Series , #3
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Alice Silverman turned in her chair and adjusted the window blind so that the late summer light fell muted into the room. All the surfaces— the pale wood table, the backs and arms of both chairs, the long low cabinet of shallow drawers— hummed with a shimmer of honeyed dust. Each drawer in the cabinet was marked clearly with the name of the child to whom it belonged; some, those of the youngest, had an animal brightly painted beside the handle, a dolphin, a diplodocus, a brown bear with outsize feet and a big red bow at its neck.
Close to Alice’s slim wrist rested the unlined pad on which, occasionally, she noted down words or phrases in a neat hand, or otherwise doodled, crosshatching dark corners that might be clouds or trees. Between herself and the boy there were sheets of unmarked paper, some coloured, some plain, and near them a wooden box filled with pencils, chalks, and crayons.
“There’s plenty of paper here,” Alice said. “You could draw something. Make me a picture.”

Barely a flicker of response in those eyes.
“It’s difficult, isn’t it?” Alice said. “Part of you wants to, but part of you doesn’t.”
Still nothing.
She had asked him before, not asked him, chivvied him, told him. Needing a response. Something she could push against. Not wanting him to be too comfortable. None of those namby-pamby social-worker questions— What had he done in the holidays? What was his favourite group, the Beatles or the Stones?
Alice looked at him and the boy shuffled awkwardly on his chair until he was sitting almost sideways, head down, face angled away.
The Stones, she thought, it had to be. For her, at least. The words to “Mother’s Little Helper” running through her head. The thrust of Jagger’s skinny hips, the cruel lewdness of his lips.
A shiver ran through her and she sensed the boy stiffen as if somehow he had noticed.

THE REFERRAL HAD COME FROM THE BOY’S TEACHER INItially, not based on any one particular thing, more an accumulation of incidents that had alerted her to some underlying malaise that went beyond the norm. Sudden mood swings, outbursts of temper, tears; several occasions on which he’d soiled himself in the playground, or once, in class, an incident, quite possibly misinterpreted, between himself and the school secretary when they had been alone in her office, something vaguely sexual.
Alice had read the reports, hummed and hawed, finally found a place in her schedule. Almost five years now since she had finished her training, three since taking up her post with this authority. The younger children, seven, eight, nine, she felt less anxious with, more in control. Boys like this, though, edging eleven, slightly built but with something threatening about them nevertheless, something confrontational beating just beneath the skin . . .
Sensing the allotted time drawing to a close, Alice allowed herself to glance down at her watch; capped and uncapped her pen, then told herself not to fidget. A cup of tea and a biscuit: two more sessions and then she was through. Another day. Tonight there was a Buñuel at the Film Society. Viridiana. Maybe she’d go along, take her mind off work, relax.
“All right then,” Alice said, as brightly as she could. “I’ll see you again next week.”

Copyright © John Harvey 2006

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at www.harcourt.com/contact or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

Meet the Author

JOHN HARVEY is the author of ten previous Charlie Resnick novels and the Frank Elder series, and a recipient of the Silver Dagger Award, the Barry Award, and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for lifetime achievement, among other honors. He lives in London.

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Darkness and Light (Frank Elder Series #3) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Many of us have admired 16th century Flemish tapestries now on display in museums throughout the world. They¿re so beautiful - from a distance they almost appear to be a painting but upon stepping closer we can see the millions of stitches. While it may seem unusual, John Harvey¿s latest book, Darkness & Light, reminds me of a tapestry, neatly stitched or plotted with each thread or word a vital part. To carry the analogy further, Harvey¿s colors are telling - the dark hue of an expression, the revealing shade of a glance. With nary an extraneous word he creates a story so compelling that rather than finding out who the killer is one wishes this tale would never end. Harvey is, indeed, a master wordsmith. Without prelude our story opens in the office of child psychiatrist Alice Silverman. She is interviewing a boy of eleven or so who refuses to speak, yet she notes that there is ¿something confrontational beating just beneath the skin.....¿ Quickly the scene changes to Cornwall where Frank Elder has retired. He receives a telephone call from his former wife, Joanne, who asks him to look into the disappearance of the older sister of her good friend, Jennie. Initially reluctant, Elder decides to go to the city in hopes of seeing his daughter, Katharine. The missing woman is Claire Meecham, a widowed woman of middle age. According to Jennie her sister is a bit of a recluse, a shy retiring lady who wouldn¿t just go off without leaving word. However, as Elder begins to delve into Claire¿s life he finds a woman quite different from the one her sister has described. Eventually Claire is found - she is at home, quite dead. She¿s discovered in her bed, fully clothed, hair neat, and not a mark on her. The sight of her reminds Elder of another case, an old unsolved death. He teams with a former colleague, Maureen Prior in an effort to solve both puzzles. His investigation is related in chapters alternating with the story of the young boy being treated by Alice Silverman. When the child is moved to another city, she is dismayed and readers are left to wonder. But, leave it to the brilliant John Harvey to weave the threads of his story together in a surprising yet satisfactory manner. This author startles with suspense, and his characters are limned with such sensitivity that one feels empathy for both villain and victim. He is simply the best- don¿t miss it! - Gail Cooke