Graham Hurley does two things exceptionally well, and these plots intertwine because of those two things. One is to detail the urban blight of Portsmouth, the decay, the moral rot of crime within the city. That Bazza should have set up Winter as a faux-community worker, complete with a bizarre green van, gives a touch of the absurd to the equation, but the first half of the book, centered on the reality of life in the estates, is truly upsetting. Hurley's other skill is in understanding the internal dynamics of the police force, the way policing is sacrificed in favour of statistics, in which ambition colours tactical decisions, and most importantly the way justice rides second to law and order. The real tension in this novel comes from the way those concerns play against life in Portsmouth. And although Winter has become the more dominant character in the series lately, the real emotional heart remains Faraday, and his internal battles throughout the novel are its crux.
Beyond Reach refers not only to Bazza, who remains one step ahead of the filth at every step of the game, nor to the youth of the estates, who are beyond the reach of virtually all of society's usual motivations and controls, but also to the whole idea of policing which Faraday, throughout the series has cherished. The intertwining stories have their final confluence in Faraday's solving of the old rape case, and though the solution is apparent fairly early, it is in its resolution that the real power of this story lies, and, as happens so many times in the story, the only way forward with any practical hope of success falls afoul of the rules of the bureaucratic game. Faraday needed Winter, to relieve his internal morose depression, because Hurley is so good at tracing the larger malaise, and it is even more depressing. This is another powerful novel, and the crimes it examines are legion.
CRIMETIME Carlson - 3 January 2010
'Another excellent book by Graham Hurley... a good story, carefully plotted and with a gritty and realistic appreciation of the setting in Portsmouth .'
'As the gripping plots intertwine, Hurley once again unearths, with realism, the moral rot of crime within the city, while delving into the internal dynamics of the police force. The results are simply riveting. A writer who deserves to win the Crime Novel of the Year for which he has twice been nominated!'
PETERBOROUGH EVENING TELEGRAPH
No one writes more authentic-seeming police novels than Graham Hurley, who almost obsessively documents the way justice always comes behind the politics of law and order. Tenth in the Portsmouth series featuring Detective Inspector Joe Faraday and former cop Paul Winter, who is now working for the city’s drug lord Bazza Mackenzie, Beyond Reach starts with a seemingly open-and-shut hit-and-run murder. But quickly this death of one of the nastiest of the youths terrorising the Portsdown housing estate turns into a complex puzzle. No one intertwines parallel plots with more ingenuity than Hurley, or more surprises, portrays the reality of social life in contemporary Britain with such depressing accuracy.
THE WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN REVIEW February 13-14, 2010. Crime File Graeme Blundell