About News & events Books Other writing Standup Reviews Contact Links Forum Tom Thorne Triskellion
Forum Mark Billingham text and Photo

The Billingham Talk Zone

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

The Billingham Talk Zone is no longer active.

All existing threads and discussions have now been archived but if you want to carry on talking about Mark's books, please follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Pages: 1 2 3 [4] 5
Print
Author Topic: "Flesh & Blood" by John Harvey  (Read 24678 times)
Jayne
Global Moderator
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 5283



« Reply #45 on: February 28, 2007 »

Thanks so much for coming on board, John - I've enjoyed reading your comments. I'm glad you decided to bring Angel into the story, as I don't think the book would have been the same without her. To me, she brings out the best - and also the worst - in Shane, and I really enjoyed reading about the relationship those two characters shared.

Many thanks for a brilliant and entertaining read.

Jayne Smiley
Logged

betty
Hardened Forum Fiend
****
Posts: 3637


Youghal - 5 miles of golden beach


« Reply #46 on: February 28, 2007 »

Thanks for your reply John- I have frequently deleted my response in Quick Reply too - don't know how the hell it happens so often.  I've read the 3 Elder books and have enjoyed them immensely.
Logged

"Life may not be the party we hoped for...
but while we are here we may as well dance"

john harvey
New Blood
*
Posts: 5


« Reply #47 on: February 28, 2007 »

Maybe it's me still thinking it's disgusting that oldsters have sex urgh, its like your parents having sex, it's, just wrong, even though at 38 I'm still thinking the same thing I thought when I was in my 20's, but no one has mentioned the sex bit of the book.  Now I know Susan's mother is only in her late 40's, but for some reason she seemed so much older, probably aged by the disappearance opf her daughter, and I'm sorry but I can't remember how old Elder is supposed to be in the book.......... but that was the only part of the book where I thought eww, revolting, and turned over quickly.  It wasn't done in a touching way at all, and I just didn't like it, urgh.  I realise anyone over a certain age is going to be shaking their heads at my reaction, but we are supposed to be giving our opinion of the book and that's one of mine.  Sorry.   Lips sealed

Hi, this [I hope] is John Harvey - I think they are acting out of mutual need and urgency and  I don't think it's meant to be either particularly wonderful for them, other than that it does satisfy that short term need, and I don't think it's meant to be a turn on for the reader; rather, it's meant to be as clumsy and messy and ultimately unsatisfying as such sex often is.
Logged

john harvey
New Blood
*
Posts: 5


« Reply #48 on: February 28, 2007 »

Yikes, Norby!  I'm so used to feeling the need to defend my Americanness (daughter goes to college in Canada, boyfriend's a British expat) that I don't even want to think about it.   But you might be right -- maybe we just get so many more of these cases here that we're suffering compassion fatigue.

Then again, I just saw "Longford," a BBC film about Lord Longford's efforts to win clemency for Myra Hindley -- who was involved in a series of rape-murders similar to the ones described here -- and it certainly didn't seem as if the UK is sympathetic to violent criminals, as a rule. 

But that would be another question for Mr. Harvey: was he thinking about the Ian Brady-Myra Hindley murders when writing this book, and does the exploration of Shane's character have anything to do with any opinions he might have about that case?

I don't think I had to too strongly in mind, other than being conscious of it as a major case, and a prime example of one person leading on another [possibly] against their will. But the echoes are undoubtedly there.
Logged

john harvey
New Blood
*
Posts: 5


« Reply #49 on: February 28, 2007 »

Well, this was a first time I had come across Frank Elder, and also the first time I had read a John Harvey book. Almost from the off, you knew you were in for a great read. In fact I was amazed that this was a debut of a character as he was so well written, so well rounded off, that you felt that there must have been a book or two before hand to flesh ( no pun intended) them out beforehand. Must have been the practice on the Resnick novels I suppose, thus they must also be a good read.

The crime was a shocking one, and seemingly all too common today, and the resolution, though a tad predictable ( especially as the plot kept coming back to this mysterious man), I am sure must also be more common than is discovered ( the optimist in me hopes so). And the kidnap and rape of Elder's daughter was horrific in its unpredictability, and in a way I am wary of reading the follow up as I dread the fall out from that incident isn't going to make easy reading, and that has never happened to me before. The book certainly gave the impression that the investigation isn't always a glamorous ride, and a lot of time is spent going over the same old things, talking to the same old people over and over again in the hope that something different comes out of one further look that gives a clue as to what has happened. This could easily have been written as a boring plod, but the way it was written was exciting even though you could feel the tedium and hopelessness of the characters retreading old ground.

The book was made even more interesting to read as I lived in the Gainsborough/Retford area for many years and many of the places mentioned I have been to, and the description of the pikey funfairs was absolutely spot on. In fact all the descriptive writing was wonderful and you really could see in your mind's eye the locations and the feelings generated.

the only bad, and I want for a better word than bad, thing I found about the book is that the fairly explicit sex scenes in it make it difficult for me to recommend the book to my 76 year old dad!

All in all, a cracker of a read and I certainly will be reading more of Mr Harvey. Well done sir!

As a dad who's not so very far off 76, may I suggest it might be just what he might appreciate!
Logged

john harvey
New Blood
*
Posts: 5


« Reply #50 on: February 28, 2007 »

Like many here, this is my first by John Harvey and he has become (yet) another writer whose work I shall try to catch up with. I thought the characterisation was excellent. The portrayal of Elder, particularly, stands out as a terrific example of economy and efficiency. Very easy to identify with and thoroughly sympathetic while retaining a hard edge. Other characters were similarly well drawn and I felt a lot of sympathy for Shane whose behaviour was thoroughly believable despite being reprehensible. The doomed relationship between Shane and Angel was heartbreaking with the incident where he attacks her (still believing McK's sick philosophies) especially well done. As for beating up Angel's foster mum, it served as a bit of a wake up call for me too, reminding me that this was a man steeped in violence and capable of justifying any behaviour if it served his interests.
Found the descriptions of Cornwall accurate and evocative - not familiar with other locations but am assuming that they were similarly well drawn.
The various twists and turns maintained a great pace and I finished the thing in a couple of sittings.
One minor criticism/question, I liked the idea that Elder's daughter is an athlete, I don't want to come across as a pedant but 300 metres?

I did check this and apparently that's the distance girls run competitively at this age.

Logged

Clair
New Blood
*
Posts: 36



WWW
« Reply #51 on: February 28, 2007 »

You're being incredibly gracious -- thanks so much for posting responses!
Logged

Rock chick
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 5287


I wanna be a Debaser....


« Reply #52 on: February 28, 2007 »

Good to hear from you, John!

You don't get this service from Richard and Judy!
Logged

I'm a S-k-g....

Derrin
Serial Poster
***
Posts: 504



« Reply #53 on: February 28, 2007 »

Maybe it's me still thinking it's disgusting that oldsters have sex urgh, its like your parents having sex, it's, just wrong, even though at 38 I'm still thinking the same thing I thought when I was in my 20's, but no one has mentioned the sex bit of the book.  Now I know Susan's mother is only in her late 40's, but for some reason she seemed so much older, probably aged by the disappearance opf her daughter, and I'm sorry but I can't remember how old Elder is supposed to be in the book.......... but that was the only part of the book where I thought eww, revolting, and turned over quickly.  It wasn't done in a touching way at all, and I just didn't like it, urgh.  I realise anyone over a certain age is going to be shaking their heads at my reaction, but we are supposed to be giving our opinion of the book and that's one of mine.  Sorry.   Lips sealed

I agree with you. That part in the book is the only time I've ever really felt uncomfortable when reading a book. I didn't write anything about it in my original post as I didn't want to offend!!
It was icky!!
Logged

Rock chick
Hero Member
*****
Posts: 5287


I wanna be a Debaser....


« Reply #54 on: February 28, 2007 »

*shakes her head*

I'm forced to disagree completely with Helena and Derrin - (I know I'm a bit of a fossil myself - 46) but I thought the sex scenes were honest, sensitively handled, and a very real part of the narrative and I found the descriptions of some of Shane's sexual encounters a good deal more disturbing.

My parents had a rule that you could go into their bedroom when the door was open, but not when it was closed - and it was closed a lot! Not remotely icky - good on them, I say!
Logged

I'm a S-k-g....

Sonia
Repeat Offender
**
Posts: 232



« Reply #55 on: February 28, 2007 »

*shakes her head*

I'm forced to disagree completely with Helena and Derrin - (I know I'm a bit of a fossil myself - 46) but I thought the sex scenes were honest, sensitively handled, and a very real part of the narrative and I found the descriptions of some of Shane's sexual encounters a good deal more disturbing.

My parents had a rule that you could go into their bedroom when the door was open, but not when it was closed - and it was closed a lot! Not remotely icky - good on them, I say!

Agree completely with you RC. Parents are humans too. And if the door had never been closed, we wouldn't have been born.

Coming back to the book: I also found Shane's urges disturbing, but he had never known anything else than painful sex, I suppose. If I understood that correctly, he had been sexually abused even by his siblings. Talk about creating a monster. Shane was too weak to leave the (granted horrible) past behind him and start a new life when he had the chance.
Logged

TonyK
Repeat Offender
**
Posts: 198



WWW
« Reply #56 on: February 28, 2007 »

Quote
Someone said they found it hard to sympathise with the characters because they all - or mostly all - brought their troubles on them through their own actions. [I hope I've got that right] For me, that would be THE reason to sympathise with them. Isn't that what we all do? We make a wrong move, say the wrong thing, buy the wrong ticket for the wrong destination on the wrong day and then we and those around us have to find a way of living with the consequences.

Very true. For those one off moments that is, I suppose, or can be the case. But it seemed to me, and I might be completely wrong here, in the book, where a character caused something to happen, they all seemed to be caused by a long term issue, or a failure to be upfront about or to confront head on something. Because of that  a lot of the problems might have been avoided or have had less impact if apologies were made earlier, hands held up sooner etc.

BTW Can I also add my many thanks for taking the time to join us here today. It has added a very pleasant and interesting facet to the discussion. Mark could have made a rod for his own back here, in that we might expect every author to come on here and give us all an insight into that months book.  Smiley
Logged

Beyond Help Beyond Redemption

tzara
Hardened Forum Fiend
****
Posts: 2435


I used to be Snow White - but I drifted...


« Reply #57 on: February 28, 2007 »

Thanks for taking the time to respond to our posts John, and congrats on the CWA SD award well deserved!

I also agree with what RC said in last post. As I said in my first one.......

"I especially liked the straight forward approach in his writing, no frills no fancy, economy of words and saying it as it is...especially in the intimate scene between Elder and Helen, very well described. "

Like it or not, people do still enjoy being intimate/having sex/making love into their 70's and 80's ...and maybe 90's and why shouldn't they?!

My interpretation from John's description of this scene is that he was describing two lonely, needy, frustrated people who found each other and satisfied what is a basic human need, and that's exactly what it meant to me.


Logged

If you want to be happy... be.

Sonia J
Hardened Forum Fiend
****
Posts: 1938



« Reply #58 on: February 28, 2007 »

I have to agree with what has already been said about the sex scenes,it was honest and served a purpose for both of them.I think they both knew the score and were happy to provide each other with a physical and emotional release.I hope I still have the drive at Elder's age and beyond  Wink
Thank you John for participating,it's lovely to think you took the time to come and see what we had to say.
Logged

Nethers
Hardened Forum Fiend
****
Posts: 1091

Popping in occasionally


« Reply #59 on: February 28, 2007 »

I think John responded well to the queries, criticisms and 'eeeewwwws' expressed here with the word "human". It's a very human story - the characters show all kinds of weaknesses and strengths just like we do in real life.  The one relationship that intrigues and fascinates me is Elder's relationship with Susan. She's just a missing person, a statistic for some. But to Elder she's someone's daughter and he feels a duty to gain (and I hate this phrase) closure for the family and for himself. Ego? Maybe. Likewise the sex between 'wrinklies' is human, and our reactions to the characters are human. We all have different sex drives but I'd take a bet that 'it doesn't drop off when you hit 50' as some seem to wish it would. I liked that part, and I liked the fact that older people could have and enoy a spot of casual howsyerfather. Made them seem ... what's the word? Yeah - human.
Logged

Pages: 1 2 3 [4] 5
Print
 
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.19 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines
XHTML | CSS