Not being police officers, most readers have to take on trust the accuracy of Graham Hurley's account of their work, but there is no doubt that his series of police procedural novels is one of the best since the genre was invented more than half a century ago. Hurley makes plodding routine convincing but not serious, and his setting in rough, seedy, insular Portsmouth is as characterful as the cops. Many of them come and go but Detective Inspector Faraday and Detective Constable Winter are the resident heroes, both men lonely widowers, convincing, compassionate and like all the best series heroes, have troublesome personal problems which never quite stop them detecting. In this book, we see Winter falling apart as he refuses to give in to increasingly crippling headaches and gets involved with a posh prostitute. Faraday becomes obsessed beyond the call of duty with a wide-ranging investigation sparked off by the discovery of a headless corpse washed up on an Isle of Wight beach. As always, Hurley has pulled off the trick of filling his pages with downbeat, depressing details and making them into an upbeat, enjoyable read.
The Literary Review: March 2006
DI Joe Faraday is the name, Portsmouth is the patch. Hurley's decent, persistent cop is cementing his reputation as one of Britain's most credible official sleuths, crisscrossing the mean streets of a city that is a brilliantly depicted microcosm of contemporary Britain. His investigations are realistic and authoritative, perhaps as a result of Hurley's background in documentary films. The discovery of a headless corpse below the cliffs of the Isle of Wight leads Faraday to the grim trade in human cargo, from cheap labour to prostitution, with which Portsmouth - as one of the country's biggest ports - is rife. The unfolding panorama of Blair's England is both edifying and shameful, and a sterling demonstration of the way crime writing can target society's woes.
Maxim Jakubowski, The Guardian 11/2/06
No police procedural conveys a more authentic-seeming picture of what modern British policing's really like than Graham Hurley's excellent series set in Portsmouth. His two central characters, DI Joe Faraday and DC Paul Winter are both widowers and essentially loners. In "Blood and Honey" Winter, suffering debilitating headaches and awaiting the result of medical tests which he is convinced will be a death sentence, is determined to bring down a corrupt businessman. The policeman's relationship with a high-class prostitute who volunteers to help him makes for an interesting sidelight on this complex man. Meanwhile, Faraday is obsessed with trying to find evidence against a man he believes is behind a headless body washed up after months in the sea. Their separate inquiries come together to make another first-rate thriller from a writer who is firmly up there with the best.
Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph, 22/1/2006.
Graham Hurley has been refining and improving the basic shape of his Joe Faraday and Paul Winter novels ever since the delivery of Turnstone. Each new book has been met with ever more enthusiastic praise from reviewers and readers alike and Graham's reputation has grown to the point where he's become generally acknowledged as the master of the truly realised yet passionately delivered police procedural crime novel. Book Six, Blood and Honey, takes Graham's template of rigorous adherence to the facts, a heartfelt social conscience, and a concern with the fine detail of his characters' lives and loves, and wraps it around a new and extremely commercial hook.
The discovery of a headless body in the sea beneath cliffs on the Isle of Wight kicks off the latest investigation for D/I Joe Faraday. ID of the body proves impossible but the disappearance of a young delivery driver who has fallen foul of the owner of a local nursing home - an ex-soldier with a violent temper - gives the investigating team an important lead.
Meanwhile, D/C Winter's life lurches from crisis to crisis as he becomes involved with a beautiful young prostitute at the centre of an investigation of a prominent and powerful local businessman. Winter's problems are further compounded by a series of vicious and debilitating migraines, the implications of which begin to alarm him.
Graham has given us a murder investigation with a gruesomely fascinating core: a body that volunteers its forensic evidence with extreme reluctance, somehow tied to a murder with a perpetrator but no known victim. He plays both our own expectations and those of the police with a masterly touch and the plot leads both parties up a cunningly-designed cul-de-sac. Along the way we are given fresh and surprising insights into the immigration problem - plus a powerful reminder of the Balkan conflict.
These are exactly the kind of incidental trademark pleasures embedded in previous Faraday books but Blood and Honey also offers both a compelling investigation with a superbly commercial hook, and a deeply-affecting exploration of the series' most powerful character as he begins to fall apart. Never shy of backing himself against life's many challenges, D/C Paul Winter faces his biggest gamble yet.
Delivery Report from Orion Series Editor, Simon Spanton