John Harvey Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

A prolific writer since the mid-1970’s, John Harvey has written—in his own name and under a number of pseudonyms—in a wide variety of subgenres, including motorcycle adventure stories, Westerns, war stories, private eye novels, police procedurals, amateur sleuth novels, and thrillers. In addition to novels, he has written poetry, short stories, books for juveniles, and novelizations of films and television shows. He also has written for television and radio. Probably the best known of Harvey’s many creations is Charlie Resnick, the competent, unambitious detective inspector who is the central character in a series of well-regarded police procedurals and a number of short stories.

Harvey has received considerable commercial and critical success during his lengthy career. His first Resnick series novel, Lonely Hearts (1989), was short-listed for the Gold Dagger Award by the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and was named one of the one hundred most notable crime novels of the twentieth century by the Times of London, and his adaptation of the novel for television earned a bronze medal for best screenplay at the 1992 New York Festival. Often nominated for other CWA awards, Harvey has won the Sherlock Award for the best British detective novel for Last Rites (1998), the Sony Radio Drama Silver Award for his adaptation of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair (1999), and the Grand Prix du Roman Noir for Cold Light (1994). Harvey’s first entry in a crime series featuring retired detective Frank Elder, Flesh and Blood (2004), won the CWA’s Silver Dagger Award for fiction and the American Barry Award as best British crime novel of the year. In 2007, Harvey won the Prix du Polar Européen for Ash and Bone (2005). The same year he was honored with the CWA’s Cartier Diamond Dagger Award for sustained excellence in crime writing.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Drew, Bernard A., Martin H. Greenburg, and Charles G. Waugh, eds. Western Series and Sequels: A Reference Guide. New York: Garland, 1986. This guide lists each of the Western series—published both in the United Kingdom and the United States—that Harvey wrote before beginning his popular Charlie Resnick detective series, giving interesting details about the characters who populated the books and naming other known authors who wrote for the series under pseudonyms.

Harvey, John. Mellotone: John Harvey—Charlie Resnick, Slow Dancer. The author’s Web site contains sections detailing with his Resnick series and other fiction and his scripts and poetry, as well as biographic information including his long stint with Slow Dancer Press, late-breaking news, and Harvey’s musical interests. Profusely illustrated with many photographs and excerpts from Harvey’s work, the site also contains archived editions of a newsletter that gives updates on Harvey and his best-known character, Charlie Resnick.

Sadler, Geoff. Twentieth-Century Western Writers. Chicago: St. James Press, 1991. A fairly lengthy article under Harvey’s name, listing the Western series for which he wrote, including biographic details, author comments, and brief critical remarks about his contributions to each series that provide insight into his later crime novels.

Stasio, Marilyn. “Crime.” Review of Cutting Edge, by John Harvey. The New York Times Book Review, July 7, 1991, p. 19. A favorable review of Cutting Edge, in which the reviewer notes the detective hero’s compassion and intelligence in seeking to understand why people do violence to their fellow humans and author Harvey’s ability to create characters with a full range of psychological issues.

Stasio, Marilyn. “Crime.” Review of Flesh and Blood, by John Harvey. The New York Times Book Review, July 25, 2004, p. 19. A favorable review of Flesh and Blood, in which the reviewer calls particular attention to the author’s skill in bringing compassion and understanding toward ordinary people—including murderers.