Bill James has been called "the Elmore Leonard of Britain's underworld" (Kirkus Reviews) and has been named a "Master of Crime" in a mystery roundup by the London Sunday Times, which said, "There is nothing else quite like this series of police procedurals. James is concerned with the dilemmas and difficulties of policing Britain's inner cities, and he addresses these in hard-edged narratives that leave readers gasping and flinching, praying the people in these stories never come to live in their streets." In addition to the Harpur and Iles series, James is the author of other mystery series and a book on Anthony Powell. He lives in Wales.
Powerfully written, taut with suspense, the second outing featuring detective chief superintendent Colin Harpur ( You'd Better Believe It ) is not for the faint-hearted. Its plot, following the diabolical actions of a psychopath who rapes, tortures and finally kills pubescent girls, is deliberately paced, moving with the inevitability of a predator stalking easy prey. Trailing the criminal just as deliberately is Harpur, a finely drawn character with a full life of his own who is determined to avoid intense interdepartmental police rivalries and apprehend the elusive ``Lolita Man'' before another girl becomes a statistic. Most chilling is the author's use of parallel diary entries, written by the rapist and by his next targeted victim, Cheryl-Ann, a plain 14-year-old whose mixture of naivete and romanticism inevitably plays into the hands of the psychopath. Cheryl-Ann's vulnerability contrasted with the perverse and tortured mindset of the man she calls ``Mr. Dark Eyes'' will be no comfort to any parent of daughters, especially when it is revealed that Cheryl-Ann has been aware of the stalker for quite some time, is in fact the friend of Harpur's own daughter and has never confided in anyone about the significant figure that the Lolita Man has become for her. This fine psychological thriller rises above disturbing novels that exploit the victims they portray as it examines the loneliness that links the killer, the cop and the victim. James is a pseudonym for David Craig, author of Whose Little Girl Are You? (May)
In this novel first published in England, British detective Colin Harpur ( You'd Better Believe It ) spearheads the investigation aimed at capturing a five-time rapist/murderer of young girls. When a 14-year-old friend of his own daughter disappears, Colin's emotions heat up even as hopes of finding the girl alive dwindle. Despite searching for clues, he finds the time to play competitive politics with the rival county force and visit his lover. In addition to its realistic emphasis on character, this smallish police procedural features occasional moments of humor and sections of narrative, victim, and rapist points of view. A riveting import for all collections.
"Savvy, cynical, and intensely readable. Perhaps only Nabokov himself could have crammed so much moral ambiguity into so little space." -- David Delman - Philadelphia Inquirer "Excellent characterizations, convincing police work, continuously taut... A corker." -- [London] Sunday Times