Review: The Hollow Man by Oliver Harris (5/5)

Tuesday 22 April 2014
Detective Nick Belsey needs help.

Something happened last night - something with the boss's wife - and Belsey needs to get out of London, and away from the debt and the drink and the deceit.

Collecting his belongings back at Hampstead CID on what should be the last day of his career, Belsey sees a missing person's report. But this one's different; this is on The Bishop's Avenue, one of the most expensive streets in the city. Belsey sees a chance for a new life.

But someone else got there first.

My good luck of reading nothing but excellent books continues with this one. I recently discovered this author on Twitter when I read about his second book, Deep Shelter. The blurb immediately jumped out at me as something I would love reading. Oliver very kindly sent me a copy of Deep Shelter but first I bought this book as even though some people just jump into series without reading other books, I felt it would be better to read this first book to acquaint myself with Nick Belsey. And am I glad I did! This book was absolutely fantastic and from start to finish I struggled to part with it!

One of my favourite things about crime fiction is detectives who don't play by the book. It doesn't always have to be in an illegal way, but when it is it is all the more enjoyable. I can say that I haven't enjoyed that aspect of a crime story as much as I did with this one. At the start of the book I was just in shock at what Nick was getting up to but loving it at the same time. First off when we are introduced to him he is covered in blood and soaking wet and he has abandoned a police car. Planning on running away he sees a MisPer for someone living on one of the richest streets in London and decides to go and have a look. Upon arriving at the house Nick helps himself to the clothing and food of the missing person.

We learn that Nick Belsey is pretty much bankrupt and all he has left to lose is his job. He comes up with a plan to get out of the UK by assuming the identity of Alexei Devereux (the MisPer who isn't missing for long...) and this is where the story really picked up and became amazing. Oliver Harris has really written a unique, interesting and gripping story which in this genre isn't an easy thing to do. Belsey was certainly a unique character and one that I just loved reading about. In terms of the actual story itself I had no idea where it was going to lead, usually you might have an idea of what's going to happen if it's a fairly predictable read but this book literally left me guessing with the end of each chapter.

And the writing! It's been a while since I've read a book written as well as this one, the words smooth as silk definitely apply here. Oliver Harris is a very talented writer. Another thing as well is the setting, I love books set in London but especially books where you can really feel the setting, the city came alive in this book and I really felt as if I was a part of it. Some authors set their books in cities but there isn't anything distinguishing in how they write about it, not the case here however and it was great.

I am just kicking myself at not discovering this author sooner and am now itching to read Deep Shelter, it is definitely at the top of my to read list. I am just wondering where Belsey will go as a character especially after the events of this book. However if Deep Shelter is even half as good as The Hollow Man then after reading it I should imagine I will be listing Belsey amongst my favourite fictional characters and Oliver Harris amongst my favourite crime authors.

You can buy The Hollow Man from Amazon

And follow Oliver Harris on Twitter

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