When Harris’ debut, The Hollow Man, was published in 2011, I thought ‘It doesn’t get much better than this’. His thriller, set in Hampstead, fulfilled my fantasy requirements of an intelligent crime novel: sharply written, fabulously paced, wonderful central character and a plot so local I wouldn’t have been surprised to see my own road turning up. And actually I’ve never been to Starbucks in South End Green since [spoiler alert].
But it turns out that I was wrong.
This follow-up, Deep Shelter, still tracking the fortunes of Byronesque bad-boy cop Nick Belsey (‘a beguiling bastard’, according to crime writer Val McDermid), adds a maturing style and a broadening appeal beyond the parochial to the long list of boxes ticked.
Briefly, if you love the early discovery of names to drop, you should pick this up.
Deep Shelter finds Hampstead nick’s Belsey attempting to keep his nose clean. But then a car chase in Belsize Park leads him to be confronted with the sort of riddle that Agatha Christie could have dreamed up, when the driver legs it down a blind alley and disappears.
What unfolds is a vivid cold war conspiracy drama. And while London swelters in the slick heat of an oppressive summer, Belsey goes underground to uncover the degenerating secrets that lie beneath our great city.
Where The Hollow Man was a no-holds-barred kitchen sink of a high octane rollercoaster, Deep Shelter is pace and pitch perfect and depicts London every bit as masterfully as the Scandinavian thriller-meisters paint their home territory.
Out March 20th, Deep Shelter is well worth investigating.