The 27th installment in the popular Harpur & Iles series.A woman and her stepson are gunned down while driving to school on a quiet residential street. An former bodyguard kills himself by firing two pistols simultaneously. Was the killer really aft er the woman's husband, the notorious drug baron Mansel Shale? And what possible connection could Shale's collection of pre-Raphaelite works of art have to the killings? Nothing in Bill James's latest Harpur & Iles thriller is as it seems. When the police chase the shooting suspect into a busy second-hand shop the action quickly turns into a deadly cat-and-mouse standoff . As the siege unfolds, with more than just gunplay in the mix, events threaten to take down more than the gunman and his hostages. Will this spell the end of Detective Harpur and his troubled boss, Assistant Chief Constable Iles?
Policemen Harpur and Iles get mixed up in the criminal world of fine art dealing
Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur feels a sort of warmth towards Jack Lamb, a brilliantly prosperous but profoundly dodgy fine arts dealer. Lamb is the greatest informant Harpur has ever dealt with – might be the greatest informant any police officer has ever dealt with – and although Jack ended this arrangement some time ago, Harpur still feels indebted to him.
Lamb's posh manor house is stuffed with expensive paintings, ripe for the pinching . . . and small-time thief George Dinnick and his crew intend to relieve him of a few. But their plans are complicated by local big-time crook Ralph Ember, who is on the lookout for some art to elevate his gentleman's club, The Monty; and who else would he visit to procure this art but Jack Lamb? Add to the mix odd-job man and stolen-art procurer Basil Gordon Loam – aka Enzyme – who Harpur and...
When a major drugs dealer seeks vengeance for the death of his family, policemen Harpur and Iles must do all they can to prevent a bloodbath
Following the murder of his wife and son, tycoon drugs dealer Mansel Shale is determined to get vengeance – and he wants another drugs baron, Ralph Ember, to help him. Having heard of the movie Strangers on a Train, in which two men agree to undertake each other's murders as a way of preventing detection, Shale suggests he and Ralph should have a similar arrangement – and Ralph is in no position to refuse.
When he learns of the plan, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles fears that if things go wrong, the hard-won peace he and Harpur have established in the city will be seriously threatened. The two top policemen find they have their work cut out to limit the damage and restore tranquillity.
"[Bill James'] strangely compelling series offers its own ample rewards."—Mystery SceneFor years Panicking Ralph Ember and Mansel Shale have run profitable drugs empires in peaceful cooperation with each other, and ACC Iles will blind-eye their trade as long as it keeps violence off the streets. But this happy arrangement is threatened by foreign dealers moving in and offering not just drugs, but punters—exploited girls from Eastern Europe. And bloody gang warfare threatens as a scrabble for territory ensues.
When Harpur and Iles are called in to investigate an undercover investigation gone wrong, they can sense dark, hazardous times ahead...
After a gang shooting involving an undercover police officer, Colin Harpur and his boss Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles are called to another Force's ground to investigate what the Home Office see as spectacular failings. Harpur can imagine the pressure the officer would have been under. If a gang decided to kill, a spy would have to go along with it. But with careers of fellow officers—who might be in secret, dangerous alliance with villains—at risk, Harpur knows that he and Iles have an exceptionally tough inquiry ahead.
This sharply satirical novel concerns a battle royal between two academic institutions and their principals. England, 1987. It's all-out war. Two universities in the same city each aim to destroy the other and take over one another's buildings, students and – above all – bank balance. At a time of austerity in public life and huge government cuts, the situation has become desperate and the respective university principals are prepared to fight very dirty indeed. Dr Lawford Chute of the revered Sedge University wants to expand, expand, expand, while the government is telling him to cut, cut, cut. But Dr Victor Tane of Charter Mill employs more covert methods to ensure his institution comes out on top. Who will win these ferocious academic fights and be the model for the statue in the modern-day university grounds: the ultimate proof of posterity for which both principals are battling?
This hilariously witty and highly topical satire on...
Sarah Iles' latest young lover, Ian Aston, and the seedy gangland club he frequents both possess the intense attraction of the forbidden. When one night at the Monty they witness a fatal knifing, they unwittingly learn far too much for their own good of a deadly plot that could, if successfully executed, rearrange the city's criminal power structure.
Immediately, the unfaithful wife and petty criminal become targets of both police and underworld observation. In Come Clean Bill James once again explores that no-man's-land of law enforcement, where human concern and naked expediency stand perennially at odds with each other.
Britain, 1956. A young actress seemingly tries to commit suicide over a tangled love affair, but is taken to hospital and her life saved. The story is just the sort of thing that journalist Ian Charteris likes to cover: a poignant mix of near tragedy, possible thwarted romance, and glamour, needing sensitive but – of course – dramatic treatment. It should be a routine assignment, a welcome assignment. It would be, if it wasn’t for the identity of the young woman. She may – just may – be Ian’s sister.
The unwelcome reminder of the past drags Ian back into memories of places and events he’d rather forget. As far as Ian is concerned, the past is a foreign country. And not just foreign. Fundamentally and cantankerously hostile. Vengeful, war-torn, dangerous.
It is impossible to escape the past; the noose is already around Ian’s neck, and every step he takes it tightens . . . And this is not the only noose.
“Superbly written, with James’ unique clipped, darkly funny dialogue and brilliantly provocative prose, this is a story that will haunt and disturb readers long after they’ve read the final page”. (Booklist Starred Review)
“James spins an effective psychological tale of a man whose past shapes his future” (Publishers Weekly)
“The unique and skilful way in which James uses words and his clever, diabolical plots are what make his Harpur and Illes cop series such a success. Another outstanding entry in this popular, highly original series” Starred Review of Play Dead (Booklist)
Panicking Ralph is a big-time villain – but he's a local villain – and when his life is threatened, policemen Harpur and Iles are straight on the case
Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur and his boss, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles, worry about the safety of one of the big-time crooks on their ground, Ralph Ember, sometimes known as Panicking Ralph. Yes, Ralph is a villain, but he's a local villain, and Harpur and Iles feel a kind of bizarre affection for him. And in any case, Ralph helps Iles keep the city reasonably peaceful. But now some awkward repercussions from Ralph's lawless past seem to bring danger.
Ralph is aware of this new peril and has installed a bulletproof steel barrier to protect himself in the club he owns – but will this be enough to keep him safe? Harpur thinks not. Surely the upcoming party at the club will provide the perfect moment for a gunman to do for Ralph? The only way Harpur can be sure...
Using unprecedented, dramatically compelling sleuthing techniques, legendary statistician and baseball writer Bill James applies his analytical acumen to crack an unsolved century-old mystery surrounding one of the deadliest serial killers in American history.
Between 1898 and 1912, families across the country were bludgeoned in their sleep with the blunt side of an axe. Jewelry and valuables were left in plain sight, bodies were piled together, faces covered with cloth. Some of these cases, like the infamous Villasca, Iowa, murders, received national attention. But few people believed the crimes were related. And fewer still would realize that all of these families lived within walking distance to a train station.
When celebrated baseball statistician and true crime expert Bill James first learned about these horrors, he began to investigate others that might fit the same pattern. Applying the same know-how he brings to his legendary baseball analysis, he empirically...
The 24th novel in the Harpur & Iles series follows DCI Harpur into an illicit narcotics ring.There's intrigue right from the start of this new entry in Bill James's Harpur and Iles series: A houseful of paintings is stolen and the body of a finely dressed stranger is discovered. Villainous drug dealers fight for dominance on Constable Iles and Detective Harpur's turf. While the kingpins maneuver and scheme, Harpur is helped-or hindered?-by his very persistent daughters and by Iles's irregular and perhaps illicit methods. In this fast-paced thriller, there's no telling who will catch the next bullet.
Good detective work allowed the pair to arrest and charge a fellow policeman, who murdered an undercover officer in an attempt to keep a crook–police racket secret. But their work is not yet done. Who ordered the execution? Why? Just how high did the conspiracy go? And – and most importantly – does the crooked power group behind the assassin still flourish?
There are questions that remain to be answered – so when the home office decides to reopen the case, it is Harpur and Iles to whom the investigation is once more handed.
Set during an alternative version of 1938 with Bill James' trademark satirical take on events - England,1938. War looms, but the Prime minister's talks with Hitler in Munich seem to result in a pact of peace. Now Mount, a secret service officer, is sent on an undercover mission to Berlin. But with all this talk of peace he starts to wonder whether his mission has any point. All until a meeting with Toumlin and two good-time girls from the local bar results in a broken chair. Could this chair have been not only the key to his mission but also the key to peace?
Harpur & Iles to uncover a trail of illegal art trading and money laundering.
"I found I had a flair for tag-along, street level stealth. It thrilled me. It killed me. Do you mind if I tell you how?"
Thomas Wells Hart drifted into a dodgy career as a private investigator and grew clever at tailing suspects and all the other tricks of the game. Not quite clever enough, however. Coming across Hart's shot-up body, Detective Chief Superintendent Colin Harpur and Assistant Chief Constable Des Iles have to work out their own explanation as to how he came to be executed behind the wheel of a Ford Focus in a quiet suburban street.
The trail will lead them through illegal art trading, big-bucks money laundering – and more murder. As ever, Iles suspects Harpur is hiding essential facts from him. As ever, Harpur is hiding essential facts from his boss. Will the mismatched pair manage to close the case?
The brand-new Harpur and Iles police procedural from master crime writer Bill James - After the dreadful business when his son and wife were shot, Mansel Shale has turned to God – leaving DCS Colin Harpur with a potential problem. Instead of keeping a grip on his profitable drugs empire, Shale has abandoned that sphere of commerce, leaving his business in the hands of an inexperienced assistant who is reputed to occasionally hallucinate about the Spanish Civil War. Harpur can see the possibility of protracted, warring viciousness on the horizon, and it is clear that something must be done . . .
The qualities that make James' books stand out from the crowd are his masterful ability with words and his howlingly funny, darkly brutal humor. Local drug kingpin Mansel Shale becomes a shadow of his former self after his wife and son are gunned down in what appears to be a hit gone wrong. In his grief, Mansel has turned to religion, leaving his drug business up for grabs. His second in command, a weirdo who believes he is Generalissimo Franco, is the wrong man to head up the organization, especially with rival Ralph Ember eager to gain control of Shale's territory. Neither Assistant Chief Des Iles nor DCS Colin Harpur wants a drug war, both believing in Iles' motto, "No blood on the pavement." But their new chief has a different motto--"Lock 'em up and toss away the key"--and is pushing matters in the wrong direction, forcing Harpur and Iles to head off the danger, keep villains and victims happy, and ensure that their town remains peaceful, if drug-ridden. Despite the seriousness of the plot, it's impossible not to laugh aloud at the fierce ripostes, subtle digs, and overt insults peppered across every page. A true delight from a genre master. -- Booklist Starred Review, October 1, 2011
About the Author
Bill James has been called "the Elmore Leonard of Britain's underworld" (Kirkus Reviews) and has been named a "Master of Crime" in a mystery roundup by the London Sunday Times, which said, "There is nothing else quite like this series of police procedurals. James is concerned with the dilemmas and difficulties of policing Britain's inner cities, and he addresses these in hard-edged narratives that leave readers gasping and flinching, praying the people in these stories never come to live in their streets." In addition to the Harpur and Iles series, James is the author of other mystery series and a book on Anthony Powell. He lives in Wales.
Part social satire, part police procedural, Bill James returns with the stunning prequel to Tip Top - In the drug-ridden Whitsun and Temperate housing estates a connection, once made, is only ever one thing: trouble. Trouble for the journalist whose investigation into the estates leads to his murder; trouble for policewoman Esther Davidson, whose job it is to arrest the killer; and trouble for TV producer Larry Edgehill, who becomes more involved with a Romeo and Juliet-esque cross-estate romance than he ever would have wanted .
Who gets hurt when the bad guys cross paths?For years drug baron Ralph Ember has run his crooked enterprises peacefully enough alongside those of his rival, Mansel Shale. Their empires have been tolerated by Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles as a way of keeping violence off the streets. But are things changing? Karl Marx's bleak theory that all capitalists—including drug tycoons—lust for monopoly seems to be coming true. Do Ember and Shale long for sole control of the trade and the profits? Ember fears that Shale now wants to kill him and take over his firm. Shale, on the other hand, is about to get remarried and—believing in keeping his (so-called) friends close and his enemies closer—has asked Ember to be his best man. Will Ember be appallingly exposed as he stands with Shale at the altar? Or will Shale? Ember wonders whether he should act first to protect himself; one of his people has already been gunned down and the killer has not yet been...
In fact, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles is extremely present in this the 25th of the Bill James series following his shady and sometimes violent police career. But he is absent from a crucial conference and therefore unable to give vital advice to a colleague from a different force, A.C.C. Esther Davidson. She is having big trouble from a local gang, the Guild, and proposes to put an out-located officer - that is, an undercover spy - into the criminal outfit. Iles might have been able to dissuade her if he'd been around. One of his own undercover officers was murdered not long ago and he has promised himself never to place anyone in such danger again. Esther goes ahead, with terrible consequences. Iles does, belatedly, try to help her, and there is even possibility of some sex between the two, but Iless real speciality is in nailing villains and not charming the fairer opposition, and so ultimately he ends up sticking with his real talents.
George Lepage, the new Director of the Hulliborn Regional Museum and Gallery, has great hopes that his tenure in the post will be short and profitable. He has visions of early retirement, and perhaps – like his predecessor, and his predecessor's predecessor – a knighthood.
But circumstances do their best to snatch his happy dreams away from him. First a deranged former staff member causes a riot in the Folk Department, and then three recently purchased, ruinously expensive paintings of dubious authenticity are stolen, putting the museum's security – and judgement – into question. The fate of the upcoming Japanese Ancient Surgical Skills exhibition, and its astonishing collection of tonsil excision implements, hangs dangerously in the balance.
And over everything hangs the grim specter of the former Director, "Flounce" Butler-Minton, whose body may be most definitely dead but whose legacy lives on. And with every day that passes, the rumours of what...