Friday, November 2, 2012

The Hollow Man

The Hollow Man by Oliver Harris
review copy provided by Harper
Description from Goodreads:
"A twisting spiral of lies and corruption, a pitch-perfect portrait of contemporary London and a beguiling bastard of a hero-what a recipe for a great read." -Val McDermid

Waking up on Hampstead Heath in a crashed squad car, still drunk, with no wallet, no phone, and only a Masonic candlestick to remind him of the events of the night before, London police detective Nick Belsey has hit rock bottom. At dawn he checks in at the station to collect his things on what should be the last day of his career, but something in the overnight files catches his interest-a missing person report from Bishops Avenue, London's richest street. Alex Devereux-worth a fortune, never seen, lived alone-has vanished, leaving his Porsche in the garage and a suicide note on his desk. In Devereux's disappearance, Belsey sees a way out for himself: the opportunity for a new start by stealing the man's identity. It's a pity, however, that so many other people are looking for Devereux as well. Belsey quickly realizes that his would-be scam is about to be outclassed by a far more ambitious fraud, as the race to get to the elusive oligarch's fortune becomes a game with life and death stakes.

The Hollow Man is a tour de force of pace and plotting, and a vividly evocative love-letter to London. Oliver Harris is a sharp and stylish writer who has created a seductive, worldly, and cunning anti-hero. Nick Belsey is amoral and cynical but nonetheless deeply serious about his investigation, about a police officer's vision of the world, and about the quest for truth that haunts any good detective


My Take:

How to describe The Hollow Man? This is a tough question. In a word: Fun! This was such a great, fast-paced, crazy, whirlwind book. Make no mistake - Nick Belsey is no hero - but he is a great anti-hero. The quote above "a beguiling bastard of a hero" is pretty much a perfect description.

I didn't really know what I'd be getting into when I started reading this one. I just picked it up because it sounded so different from what I had been reading recently. It took only a page or two and I was so intrigued by figuring out what exactly was going on with Belsey and then with the suicide of Devereux - well, I was quickly hooked. 

The basic story is pretty easily figured out: Belsey, a dirty(ish)*cop is broke, bankruptcy just around the corner, looking for a quick-fix to his problems -- and the fix doesn't even have to be legal. The seemingly perfect opportunity presents itself and then while trying to make it all work, hell breaks out all over the place. There are criminals, assassins, crooked politicians, dirty cops, youth in trouble, you name it, it's probably here. The plot twists are many and pretty clever. I enjoyed every minute I spent reading this one.


* [ the -ish because everything is relative in this book]


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