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Last Rites [Hardcover]

John Harvey
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Dec 1 2000
This is Charlie Resnick's final case-and it's Resnick at his finest.

Guns and drugs, gang wars and police corruption: seems more like America's inner cities than England's Nottingham, where once the only crime wave was wrought by Robin Hood. This one, alas, has local law enforcement tied up in knots. So when a convicted murderer out on compassionate leave turns up at his mother's funeral and abruptly disappears, the local cops don't have much time to spare for a manhunt. Let the prison authorities do the job.

But things aren't quite that simple. They never are when it comes to crime-or to affairs of the heart. Last Rites is a gritty and violent tale of modern-day cops and killers, but at its beating heart, it's about love: obsessive, familial, perverted, tender. It's about what we do in the name of love-and what love does to us. It's a fitting end to a fine series.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Back outside, walking away from the hospital toward Old Lenton, Resnick's step was springier, lighter. He couldn't remember the last time he'd struck a blow outside of self-defense; couldn't recall when he'd last used force of any kind. And although he knew that later his conscience would be giving him gyp, right now he felt one hundred percent better."

That, of course, is Nottingham's own Charlie Resnick, a smart British policeman of Polish origins who would rather eat a sausage sandwich or listen to a Duke Ellington record than threaten a criminal. But threaten a drug dealer is exactly what he has just done; times are changing, and this will be Charlie's final case. John Harvey says he's ending his distinguished series because he no longer lives in Nottingham.

Resnick's last stand involves a prisoner named Michael Preston, who was incarcerated for murdering his father, but absconds while he's out on compassionate leave. He vanishes into the streets of Nottingham and begins to torment his family. Meanwhile, rival drug gangs are shedding blood on Resnick's turf, and a corrupt copper is at large in the department. This is typical John Harvey fare: Charlie's sporadic affair with social worker Hannah is more off than on; dozens of greasy sandwiches are consumed; Charlie's many cats nap while Art Tatum and Thelonius Monk play quietly in the background. It's a fine, rich atmosphere, now so familiar that it's hard to say good-bye. Although there have been stronger, more spectacular entries in the Resnick series, Last Rites has enough of the familiar ingredients and the gritty street poetry to make a satisfying finale. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Harvey's series about Charlie Resnick, the jazz-loving, melancholy cop in provincial Nottingham, England, has long been one of the finest police procedural series around (Rough Treatment, Cold Light, Easy Meat, others). "Has been," because with this exceptionally good entry, poet Harvey says he is leaving Nottingham and Resnick behind. At least he has quit on a high note. A building turf war between drug lords, and an escape by a prisoner who had murdered his own father, are at the heart of the new yarn, skillfully interwoven in a way that only Harvey at his best can contrive. Michael Preston had gone willingly to jail for his father's murder, and when he escapes on an escorted visit to his mother's funeral, his sister Lorraine, always close to him, is fiercely divided. Only she has a sense of what may have driven himAbut now he is hopelessly lost to a criminal life, and Lorraine has her own husband and children to care for. Harvey's feel for the fearful compulsions of love is as unerring as his ear for the hard-bitten Midlanders whose lives are Resnick's beat. A decent, thoughtful man in a tough job, whose tender instincts are constantly at war with his duty, Resnick is a splendidly conceived character who will be much missed.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
In 1986, career criminal Michael Preston was sentenced to spend life in jail after being convicted of first degree in the murder of his father. Twelve years later, as part of a more compassionate prison system, two relatively inexperienced prison guards escort Michael to the funeral of his mother. Michael attacks his guards with a razor blade and manages to escape.
Inspector Charlie Resnick and his team are assigned to the case. They begin questioning the guards and follow up with Michael's family. He soon starts linking Michael's activities to a growing drug war between two rival gangs. Charlie also realizes that somehow Michael's sister Loretta fits into the equation. With two more murders to Michael's credit, Charlie also knows that he must recapture Michael before more people die.
The tenth and final Charlie Resnick police procedural is an excellent tale. Readers will feel sad that the series is over (according to John Harvey), but glad that they had the opportunity to read such a fabulous collection of tales. The story line of LAST RITES is vintage Resnick. It ties together two seemingly divergent plots into one wonderful novel. Charlie and the support cast remain fresh, but this time Mr. Harvey ties up most of the loose ends left from the previous books. In the cold light of day, fans of the sub-genre will miss Charlie.

Harriet Klausner
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3.0 out of 5 stars Running Out Steam... Jan. 27 2000
By A. Ross
Format:Hardcover
The not-so-grand finale in the Charlie Resnick series certainly exhibits the signs of Harvey's weariness with the series. The highly predictable main plot features an escaped murderer with a sordid childhood, and is the least interesting element of the book. The police efforts to stem a series of drug-related killings brings in a number of minor players from past books and is somewhat more interesting. But of course it is the developments in Resnick's private and professional life that drives the book and rescues it in the end.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Will be sadly missed Jan. 5 2000
Format:Hardcover
I did not realize until nearly at the end that this was the last of the Resnick novels. I'm embarassed to admit that he has become a part of my life and that I awaited his next installment like a child on the first day of school. I feel like my life will somehow be incomplete without the wisdom of Charlie but anxiously await the latest character.
This series will be well worth the attention.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful June 18 1999
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Harvey, how can you leave us to be a publisher? Charlie deserves to go on and on and on.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Running Out Steam... Jan. 27 2000
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The not-so-grand finale in the Charlie Resnick series certainly exhibits the signs of Harvey's weariness with the series. The highly predictable main plot features an escaped murderer with a sordid childhood, and is the least interesting element of the book. The police efforts to stem a series of drug-related killings brings in a number of minor players from past books and is somewhat more interesting. But of course it is the developments in Resnick's private and professional life that drives the book and rescues it in the end.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will be sadly missed Jan. 5 2000
By Tove Larson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I did not realize until nearly at the end that this was the last of the Resnick novels. I'm embarassed to admit that he has become a part of my life and that I awaited his next installment like a child on the first day of school. I feel like my life will somehow be incomplete without the wisdom of Charlie but anxiously await the latest character.
This series will be well worth the attention.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great end to a great series June 14 2009
By T. J. Reilly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Sadly, this great series comes to an end. A remarkably consistent set of stories, each touching on a different social issue. Harvey is a genius at developing characters, some who seem destined to be fixtures only to leave the series due to death or other causes but who remain in Charlie's memory in later stories. Poor Charlie, who stumbles into relationships in one novel only to see it end in later ones. Living with his four cats amidst constant jazz, and spending time at Polish events to refresh his Polish roots, Charlie Resnick became a close friend. Of all the British police procedural characters, Charlie is the one I'd most like to meet and befriend. I suspect John Harvey misses him too.

A word of caution. This series is best read in sequence, precisely because they are in fact one continuous story of one man's remarkable life.
5.0 out of 5 stars See my review of Still Water Sept. 2 2013
By Maureen Griffin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I said it all in my review of Still Water. Charlie Resnick is a great character and I'd like to send a plea to John Harvey to keep it up. I know Cold in Hand came out after several years but maybe if Charlie can't be revived you could give us another great recurring character.
4.0 out of 5 stars Intuitive Detective Jan. 6 2009
By Ted Feit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Charlie Resnick, the intuitive, low-key Detective Inspector, is embroiled in two separate cases which become intertwined. To begin with there is the shooting of a key drug distributor by a rival, and the chase to find the missing weapon and proof of the perpetrator's guilt. Then there is a murderer who receives permission to attend his mother's funeral and escapes from his keepers.

Both these situations occupy Resnick amid fears of an escalating drug war between various factions: find and recapture the escapee, and keep a lid on the volatile situation in the streets. Resnick smoothly pursues both goals while enjoying his love of music and trying to make sense of his own love life.

Tenth in the series, the novel is simply told and written with polish. The story moves fluidly and the suspense builds to an explosive climax. The characters are portrayed in a realistic manner, and while the two elements of the story are unrelated, the author meshes them believably. Recommended.
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