Saturday, July 2, 2011

One Under by Graham Hurley: A review

Graham Hurley's British police procedural series featuring DI Joe Farraday and DS Paul Winter has grown on me. At the beginning, I did not find either of the two main characters particularly attractive or sympathetic, although they were certainly interesting, but as the series has continued, now into its seventh entry, those characters have become better defined and more complex and I find that I quite like them both.

Hurley's usual modus operandi is to have the two detectives working two separate cases which intersect or overlap at some point and that is the situation here.

We begin with a man dying horribly while chained to a railroad track. The main questions are, how did he come to be there and is this murder or some weird kind of suicide? If it is murder, what could the man have done to have made someone want to kill him in this fashion? As the detectives begin to piece together the victim's story, they discover an obsessive loner who was politically active and engaged, but was there a motive for murder in any of his activities?

Meantime, while working this case, Paul Winter discovers another missing person. It turns out that this missing man has a connection with one of Paul's mates who works at the morgue, one Jake Tarrant. The missing person had sought to ingratiate himself with Jake and his family and the investigation reveals that he had turned over a lot of money to Jake, enough to help him get the home that he wants for his wife and two children. Why would the man do that? And has he now simply disappeared or is he dead? Winter begins to suspect the latter and, at some length, surmises what might be a motive for murder, but will he ever be able to prove it?

Hurley is meticulous in taking us through the process of the investigations on both cases and his writing, which has always been good, was really excellent this time. He paints such clear pictures of all the different characters that I felt as if I had actually met and talked with them. I could always understand why they did what they did, even if I did not necessarily agree with it.

I think this was really the best of the series so far and I look forward to reading the next entry.

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