Not content with writing a lengthy appreciation of the Charlie Resnick series and my work in general, Michael Carlson has also chosen, for the Good Reads web site, his favourites from the 12 novels. Here they are …
If you’re coming to Darkness, Darkness as your first Resnick, I envy you, because you have the whole series to work through. I’d go beginning to end, without waiting a year at a time for the first ten, then ten years for the next, but if you insist on the highlights, try these five:
1. Lonely Hearts (1989)
The first, and still one of the best. Introduces and establishes his unique character in a novel that the Times called one of the 100 best crime novels of the century. It’s the book where Harvey finally relaxed from his feverish pace of writing, and gave his characters and setting more depth, and the result was stunning.
2. Wasted Years (1993)
In which a series of brutal robberies for Charlie to face events from ten years before: an incident he’d tried to forget, and a marriage he’d lost.
3. Still Water (1997)
Perhaps the best illustration of the way Harvey uses the criminal investigation to mirror the lives of his characters. A woman’s body found floating in a Nottingham canal reminds Resnick of a similar killing that dragged him from a Milt Jackson concert many years before. And the nature of the sex crimes reflects the relationship problems of some of the detectives involved.
4. Last Rites (1998)
In its own way more elegiac than Darkness, Darkness, as Resnick deals with two drug gangs involved in a turf war, and pursues an escaped murderer, and tries to protect his sister. It’s a novel about the things love forces us to do, and about the loss of such love.
5. Darkness, Darkness (2014)
Alone after the death of his partner Lynn, Resnick is presented with a thirty-year old murder which took place in the midst of the violent chaos of the miner’s strike, forcing him to revisit those times while trying to solve the murder today
And if you have already read Darkness, Darkness, then treat yourself to at least one non-Resnick novel: In A True Light (2001), the story of Sloane, an art forger, which encompasses abstract expressionism, jazz, family relations, and a man finding himself all in one perfectly formed novel.