Cover image for The girl with the long back
The girl with the long back
James, Bill, 1929-
Personal Author:
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton, 2004.

Physical Description:
239 pages ; 22 cm
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With the rumored transfer of Chief of Police Mark Lane, London's competitive drug lords are on edge. In the past, Desmond Iles has managed to maintain the peace on the streets in an old-fashioned system of give a little, take a little. But with a dangerous mix of greed and fear, the looming threat of a stricter police force, and three sudden deaths, all sides are preparing themselves for a full-scale battle of the ugliest kind. A deliciously witty addition to a classic series, The Girl with the Long Back heightens the urgency and pace of the tantalizing London underworld in which cops and criminals, and all of their clever asides, are sketched in fantastic detail.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The latest entry in the long-running police procedural series starring battling London cops Iles and Harpur is about as bleak and uncomfortable as a procedural can get, which is entirely in keeping with the wayames' novels upend the conventional procedural theme of cops bringing order out of criminal chaos. In the Iles-Harpur books, the criminals have nothing on the cops when it comes to chaos and corruption. Assistant Chief Iles and his subordinate, Detective Chief Harpur, have worked for and against each other over the span of 20 books, their relationship as embittering as a bad marriage. This time out, Harpur sees Iles slipping, both politically and on the streets, as the uneasy peace Iles has crafted among the drug lords disintegrates into a full-scale turf war. Great information on the how-to's of undercover police work gives this novel its pulse, while the shifting points of view, from cop to drug lord, heighten tension. As gritty as it gets. --Connie Fletcher Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Desmond Iles is in trouble, and that's enough to give a new jolt of energy to James's long-running series (Naked at the Window, etc.) about the dapper, devious, demented Assistant Chief Constable of an unnamed British Midlands city and his colleague and primary antagonist, Chief of Detectives Colin Harpur. Here Iles faces two challenges: a tough new chief constable may replace his well-meaning but clueless boss Chief Constable Mark Lane and crush Iles like a bug; and one of the city's three top drug magnates is rumored to want Iles dead. Harpur disapproves of his superior's style of policing, and despite Iles's distaste for using undercover agents (who have a bad habit of being killed) Harpur plants a sharp young female detective inside the smallest of the three drug operations. The titular young woman with the shapely rear is the 18-year-old daughter of a recently deceased "grass," or informer. Fascinated by teenage girls, Iles naturally finds himself attracted to her-until she begins to respond favorably to his advances. Once again, it's James's darkly ironic writing that makes this series worth the padding and occasional plodding: "It dismayed Harpur to think of [Iles] crushed and humbled, though God knew such a malevolent, pirouetting, egomaniac vandal half deserved it, or a quarter. Diminish Iles and you could undermine life's whole fragile scheme, as in the elimination of a species or act of genocide." (Mar. 22) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Because of the impending transfer of the chief of police, London's underworld big shots are getting nervous about stricter enforcement. Tension, violence, and murder, therefore, underscore detectives Harpur and Iles's procedural activities. Buy for demand. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.