Cover image for Last rites : a novel
Last rites : a novel
Harvey, John, 1938-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : H. Holt & Co., 1999.

Physical Description:
312 pages ; 23 cm
General Note:
"A Marian Wood book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



When a convicted murderer out on compassionate leave turns up at his mother's funeral and abruptly disappears, the local cops don't have much time to spare for a manhunt. This is Charlie Resnick's final case--and it's Resnick at his finest.

Author Notes

John Harvey was born in London, England on December 21, 1938. After studying at Goldsmiths' College, University of London, and at Hatfield Polytechnic, he received a master's degree in American studies at the University of Nottingham, where he briefly taught film and American literature. He taught English and drama in secondary schools for 12 years.

He has been a full-time author since 1975. He has written more than 100 books including The Charlie Resnick Mystery series. He has received several awards including the Grand Prix du Roman Noir Etranger in 2000 for Cold Light, the British Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger and the Barry Award in 2004 for Flesh and Blood, the Prix du Polar European in 2007 for Ash and Bone, the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for Sustained Excellence in Crime Writing in 2007, and the CWA Short Story Dagger in 2014 for Fedora. He has also published several poetry collections including Ghosts of a Chance, Bluer Than This, and New and Selected Poems, Out of Silence. He has written for television and radio. Between 1977 and 1999, he edited Slow Dancer magazine and ran Slow Dancer.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Charlie Resnick's final case--those words will shock mystery readers as deeply as Michael Jordan's retirement has jolted basketball fans. And yet, as with Michael's departure, the time may be right. After 10 installments, and concluding with a finale that rings the perfect tonic chord, the Resnick series stands as a contained whole--a sequence of novels with a beginning, middle, and end that tells the story of urban crime in contemporary Britain as fully and as richly as possible. Like Sj\x9a wall and Wahl\x9a o's Martin Beck series, also 10 crime novels that read as one, the Resnick series uses its extended form to build characters that breathe deeply and live fully. Perhaps what we'll miss most about the Resnick novels is their dailiness, the way Harvey gives us not just the dramatic moments in a few coppers' lives but also the plodding, bedraggled, grease-stained transitions between those bursts of activity--ennui with a splash of adrenalin. There's some of each in the final episode, which finds Resnick and colleagues attempting to end a local drug war and track down an escaped killer. As always, Resnick slouches his way to understanding, recognizing eventually that the catalyst for much of the mayhem is a love story, as perverted as it is wrenchingly tender. Meanwhile, strands of stories left incomplete in earlier novels come together, some offering more snapshots of wasted lives, others providing glimmers of hope. Harvey ends his story, yes, but he avoids wrapping it all into too neat a package. The great strength of the Resnick series has always been Harvey's grasp of the mess and muddle of human life and his ability to find poetry in the midst of that mess. So if the series hits its tonic chord, it is appropriately a chord made up of jagged notes, the kind played by the jazz-loving Resnick's hero, Thelonious Monk. The perfect end for a nearly perfect series. --Bill Ott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Harvey's series about Charlie Resnick, the jazz-loving, melancholy cop in provincial Nottingham, England, has long been one of the finest police procedural series around (Rough Treatment, Cold Light, Easy Meat, others). "Has been," because with this exceptionally good entry, poet Harvey says he is leaving Nottingham and Resnick behind. At least he has quit on a high note. A building turf war between drug lords, and an escape by a prisoner who had murdered his own father, are at the heart of the new yarn, skillfully interwoven in a way that only Harvey at his best can contrive. Michael Preston had gone willingly to jail for his father's murder, and when he escapes on an escorted visit to his mother's funeral, his sister Lorraine, always close to him, is fiercely divided. Only she has a sense of what may have driven himÄbut now he is hopelessly lost to a criminal life, and Lorraine has her own husband and children to care for. Harvey's feel for the fearful compulsions of love is as unerring as his ear for the hard-bitten Midlanders whose lives are Resnick's beat. A decent, thoughtful man in a tough job, whose tender instincts are constantly at war with his duty, Resnick is a splendidly conceived character who will be much missed. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

This is the tenth and last of Harvey's Charlie Resnick novels (e.g., Still Waters, LJ 8/97), realistic police procedurals set in the often dreary lower social strata of contemporary Nottingham. A convicted killer escapes while under guard at his mother's funeral, and the pursuit leads through drug wars, family struggles, and subplots often involving characters from earlier novels. The focus is on character and dialog, but a vividly wrought sense of place surrounds everything, and, although much is depressing, Resnick maintains a sense of compassion, even hope. Harvey's social realism is Dickensian, without the cynicism of Wahloo and Sjowall; other influences include Chandler, Elmore Leonard, Ross Thomas, and jazz. He makes us know and care about his characters, like Resnick neither judging nor condemning them. Mystery at its best, this is highly recommended. Resnick certainly will be missed by his many fans.ÄRoland C. Person, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.