Cover image for The hard detective
The hard detective
Keating, H. R. F. (Henry Reymond Fitzwalter), 1926-2011.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Minotaur, 2000.
Physical Description:
236 pages ; 22 cm
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Known as the hard detective, Harriet Martens is despised by local criminals. When two of her officers are murdered, Harriet connects their deaths to the Bible's life for life, eye for eye text and attempts to prevent the six deaths that will surely complete the quotation.

Author Notes

H. R. F. Keating (Henry Reymond Fitzwalter "Harry" Keating) was born in St. Leonards-on-Sea on October 31, 1926. He attended Merchant Taylor's School in London, England and Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. He worked for The Times (London) as the crime books reviewer from 1967 to 1983. His first novel, Death and the Visiting Firemen, was published in 1959. He wrote about 50 fiction and nonfiction works during his lifetime, but is best known for the Inspector Ghote series. His other works include the Harriet Martens Mysteries series and Sherlock Holmes: The Man and His World.

Keating received the CWA Gold Dagger Award in 1964 for The Perfect Murder and in 1980 for The Murder of the Maharajah, the Edgar Alan Poe award in 1988, the George N. Dove Award in 1995, and the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding service to crime fiction in 1996. He died of cardiac failure on March 27, 2011 at the age of 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The "eye for an eye" injunctions (eight in all) of Exodus 21:23 are carried out in a pathologically precise manner by a serial killer who targets constables of the Greater Birchester Police. It falls to tough-as-nails Detective Chief Inspector Harriet Martens (the "hard detective" of the title) to find the killer before he or she gets through the entire bloodthirsty biblical passage. Martens suspects that her "Stop the Rot" campaign against criminal behavior, from graffiti through drug dealing, may have backfired, causing one irate nutcase to retaliate. Martens' investigation is complicated by having to work with a civilian criminal profiler who she believes is a bit too adept at predicting criminal behavior. The creativity with which cops are executed according to Exodus gives this police procedural an eerie tinge, reminiscent of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians. The prolific Keating, best known for his Inspector Ghote series, again underscores a knockout plot with crisp writing and intriguing characters.--Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

Contemporary British police procedural meets old-fashioned puzzle mystery in this slick, streamlined effort from veteran Edgar-winner Keating (The Bad Detective, The Soft Detective, etc.). Detective Chief Inspector Harriet Martens has put Greater Birchester's criminal element on notice with her tough "Stop the Rot" campaign. Now she faces a far greater challenge: tracking down the fiend who's taken to murdering police officers in accordance with the "eye for eye, tooth for tooth" passage from Exodus. Though she identifies the killer fairly early on, the hard detective cannot prevent further deaths, all contrived to fit the biblical verse. The murder motive, once revealed, becomes simply a given. In the end Harriet deliberately puts herself at risk, daring the crazed killer to come after her "stripe for stripe," that is, with a whip. You can bet that she'll get a taste of the lash that she might otherwise have avoided by taking some basic security precautions. (Picking up the suspect, of whom the police have a good description, at one of the city's sex shops that sell whips might have been worth a try, too.) A formulaic plot and minimal characterization allow Keating to focus on the essentials of crime and detection. Harriet's spirited exchanges with psychologist Dr. Peter "Smellyfeet" Scholl (on the treatment of criminals) and with tabloid reporter Tim Patterson (on the role of the press) lend some welcome texture to a shallow if compelling entertainment. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

British Detective Chief Inspector Harriet Martens, rather a hard-nosed harridan, struggles to find the murderer(s) of two police officers before more deaths occur. A dependable procedural from an accomplished hand (The Bad Detective). (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.