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In a True Light: A Novel of Crime (Otto Penzler Books) Hardcover – July 25, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Otto Penzler Books
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 1st Carroll & Graf ed edition (July 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786710535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786710539
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,905,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
After the ten novels and eleven short stories of his Charlie Resnick police procedural series, poet and publisher Harvey leaves the familiar mean streets of Nottingham in his new crime novel, which splits its time between London and New York (with a side trip to Tuscany). The new setting doesn't mean a totally different style though, as Harvey includes NYC cops, builds plenty of jazz into the tale, and features a world-weary protagonist easily imaginable as a good friend of Charlie Resnick.
Sloane is a 60ish painter, just out of prison after a several year stretch for art forgery. He worked for a slimy art dealer, who he refused to drop the dime on. Now out, he works to rebuild his lonely life and wrecked studio, making friends with the local Malian café owner. He receives a letter from a lover from his youth-back when he was a bright young thing, and she ran with the big names in modern painting (Pollock, de Kooning, etc.). On her deathbed, the former flame (and one suspects his everlasting regret), reveals the existence of their daughter, stunning him.
Sloane ventures to New York to track her down, tasked with delivering her mother's last words. The woman is a jazz singer, under the thumb of a nasty semi-connected mobster type, who is also being investigated by a pair of homicide cops for the brutal murder of another woman. As Sloane searches for his daughter, he runs into old friends and a possible romance starts. The story builds its multiple strands steadily, only to erupt in a terrifying burst of nasty violence in the final chapters.
Unlike some crime writers who try to take on settings other than their native ones, Harvey exhibits total command of Manhattan past and present.
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Format: Hardcover
I would like to add a "me, too!" to T. Ross's fine review of "In A True Light." Harvey's Resnick series is such a pleasure, I could not bear to read the last book. (wasn't the death of Morse bad enough for fans of understated and intelligent British crime novels?)
Harvey's has once again created a character who at once is extremely likeable and flawed, who after a life of underachieving is given the greatest of gifts, a second chance. In his journey, he finds justice and redemption...and the wisdom to appreciate it.
The themes of unfinished business, unsentimental journeys into the past, and the art worlds of today's London and yesterday's New York moves along to a rich and satisfying conclusion.
The author's gift for characterization and dialogue is dead on. In a few lines we know enough to to embrace wholeheartedly or loathe to death the people who populate his worlds. I don't know if Sloane will star a new Harvey franchise, but I wouldn't mind meeting him again in his midlife adventure.
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Format: Hardcover
I've read all the Reznick novels and was wondering whether I'd be able to make the leap to Harvey's first stand-alone. What an idiot I was. Harvey has a poet's knack for the elegant, simple detail that never obtrudes but just nails the moment so clearly the reader is constantly engaged with what's on the page. And he does the almost impossible, conveying in words the palpable sense of both music and visual art so that the reader can hear and see what's being described. Others here have recounted the story so I won't repeat, except to say it was the characters I found compelling, portrayed in scenes that managed to be both spare and rich. I too have some quibbles about the ending but they are so minor as to be unworthy of mention. The book earned my undivided interest throughout. I looked forward each evening to my time with it--what more does one want from a novel?
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By S. Harris on November 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
John Harvey's novel, In a True Light, delivers in most areas: characters, plot, and also, in this case, texturing, which is probably appropriate given the importance of painting and the arts in what is essentially, a noir-like novel.
Sloane, the 60 year old artist (and one time forger), is on the brink of old age. But, after getting out of prison, he is willing to give life a new go. Before doing so however, he receives a message from an old love who is dying in Italy. This old love -- Jane Graham, also an artist, and a somewhat famous one, turns out to have been the mother of a child Sloane was unaware of. Apparently Sloane is the father, and he takes on the search for his missing daughter (Connie, now a 40 year old singer in NY), in an attempt to heal the divide between mother, daughter, and to some extent the hole within Sloane himself.
But this is also a crime novel, and the sexual thug, Delaney, poses a dangerous threat to both Connie and to others. (This guy is a real creep.) Throughout, Harvey's hand is sure, whether painting the nightclub scene in New York, or when actually discussing abstract painting. On surface, this may seem an oil and water mix (painting? crime?), but it works. Harvey integrates seamlessly the art world with the underbelly of the city. Further, Harvey's research, and depiction, of 1950s New York, with its poets and its painters, rings true within the novel's framework. One ding -- Harvey's neatly tying up (nearly) of all the loose ends to provide a happy ending (except for one character). Not quite noir -- which is why I'm giving it 4 stars. (I'll call it grey noir.) Still, perhaps we need those from time to time, especially when the story is so well crafted. Definitely worth a read.
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