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Lonely Hearts (1989)

by John Harvey

Series: Charlie Resnick (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
396950,407 (3.47)22
A serial killer stalks the women of Nottingham in the first Charlie Resnick Mystery--"A quantum leap for the police procedural" (Andrew Vachss, author of the Burke series).   Shirley Peters was murdered in her own home. A directionless young woman with a fondness for cheap red wine and a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, her death is just another in the files of the Nottingham detective's bureau. The police round up her ex-lover without much fuss, and are preparing to try him when another body surfaces. The method, the target, and the extreme violence are all a match for the killing of Shirley Peters. Nottingham is facing a serial killer.   Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick is the first to see the connection. Both victims placed ads in a citywide Lonely Hearts column, and the rumpled detective suspects that their killer found them by preying on their isolation. He has little time to find the killer before more women die and Nottingham erupts into panic.… (more)
  1. 10
    Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason (ansate)
    ansate: Erlendur and Resnick remind me a lot of each other, and both series paint vivid pictures of the cities where they take place.
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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Harvey has a quick-cut style that may take a little to get used to, i.e. scenes are often no slowly introduced or developed, but rather the reader is dumped into the middle of. Once comfortable with this, the reader is in for a grand British police procedural with jazz loving, 4-cat co-habitating Detective-Inspector Charlie Resnick. Charlie often seems to sensitive for his job, but he and his interesting squad make for an interesting quite-human team. ( )
  ManyBooks_LittleTime | May 5, 2020 |
Published thirty years ago, this was the first novel by John Harvey, and introduced his principal protagonist, Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick. Having grown up in the East Midlands, I was particularly drawn by the Resnick stories and their Nottingham setting. Just as with Ian Rankin’s books featuring Inspector Rebus, these stories featured real settings – places that I knew, and had visited myself, and could readily recognise from Harvey’s description.

Of course, it is customary now for fictional detectives to display certain quirks. Resnick is a lugubrious character, with quirks in abundance. He is almost obsessed with coffee, struggling in those days before the proliferation of high street coffee bars to find an espresso that is even vaguely palatable He is also very particular in his choice of sandwiches, which represent his staple for lunch, using a select handful of delicatessens that can satisfy his rigorous demands. He is also a keen adherent of traditional jazz, and has four cats, each named after a jazz maestro.

There is a strong undercurrent of melancholy throughout the novels (which goes beyond Resnick’s support of Notts County Football Club, although that in itself might well be sufficient source of melancholia to be going on with). As this novel opens, Resnick is giving evidence in the trial of a man charged with abusing his young daughter. This is peripheral to the main plot, but somehow sets the tone of all that follows. Resnick is oppressed by the knowledge that he is fighting a losing battle against the ravages of crime, and his feeling of despair seems to permeate the whole book.

The main plot concerns the murder of a young woman who is believed to have been killed by her former partner who had a history of violence. While he is in custody, however, another, similar murder occurs. The police have to reconfigure their approach, and we are left wondering whether a serial killer might be working in Nottingham.

Harvey writes marvellously – indeed, he is also an established poet and publisher in his own right – and his plots are soundly constructed. This is not a jolly book, but it does captures the reader’s attention right from the start, and then retains it. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Oct 1, 2019 |
August 11th Release Date
  JulieCovington | May 29, 2016 |
It was okay. I didn't care for the ending. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
Lonely Hearts is the first (1990) in a highly regarded 10 book series by John Harvey that continues with a new addition expected in 2014. Charlie Resnick is a Detective Inspector investigating the murder of a woman approaching middle age, killed in her flat by strangulation. Interviews with neighbors point the police to an ex-boyfriend who wanted to continue the relationship. Within a few weeks there is a second murder, but the method and circumstances are very different, though once again it is a woman in the same age range and alone in her flat when attacked. Charlie and team begin to broaden their investigation in their search for other suspects.

There are a number of things I liked about the story including most of the characters, particularly Charlie, a no-nonsense, hard working guy, with no obvious addictions or other serious flaws save his divorce of five years ago. In the course of the investigation he begins a relationship with Rachel, a social worker coming off an unsatisfactory relationship, and also a divorcee. The story moves along at a good pace, and the plot is above average.

But the book does have its flaws. One of the characters describes a suspect's behaviors and inadvertently answers the motive question far better than any other theory. So the reader knows fairly early on who the killer is but the police can't seem to figure that out until the very end. Secondly, Rachel has moments when she exhibits an unusually sharp tongue (stay away, Charlie). I'm not exactly sure if Charlie's description of the killer's end is accurate, and if so it doesn't seem to fit circumstances. Finally, I got a bit tripped up with some of the prose, particularly a fair amount of the slang which didn't make sense to me even in context.

So, I'm on the fence about reading book #2 in this series. On the other hand, one of my all-time favorite series, Ian Rankin's John Rebus, started with 3 or 4 books that I thought were well below par. Fortunately I started that series at book #7 or I may not have read all 17 or 18 or?? (Rebus has been resurrected)books. ( )
  maneekuhi | Jan 5, 2014 |
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Dulan Barberille —
jonka ystävyys ja apu
ovat olleet tämän kirjan
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Hän ei ollut ajatellut miestä pitkään aikaan.
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A serial killer stalks the women of Nottingham in the first Charlie Resnick Mystery--"A quantum leap for the police procedural" (Andrew Vachss, author of the Burke series).   Shirley Peters was murdered in her own home. A directionless young woman with a fondness for cheap red wine and a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend, her death is just another in the files of the Nottingham detective's bureau. The police round up her ex-lover without much fuss, and are preparing to try him when another body surfaces. The method, the target, and the extreme violence are all a match for the killing of Shirley Peters. Nottingham is facing a serial killer.   Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick is the first to see the connection. Both victims placed ads in a citywide Lonely Hearts column, and the rumpled detective suspects that their killer found them by preying on their isolation. He has little time to find the killer before more women die and Nottingham erupts into panic.

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