Book: Flesh & Blood

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Flesh & Blood: A Frank Elder Mystery

Author: John Harvey
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers

Retirement has not come easy for Detective Inspector Frank Elder. He’s fled west, into a solitary existence on the Cornish coast, but he can’t escape the past. He continues to be troubled by his wife’s betrayal, he worries over their teenage daughter, he’s haunted by bad dreams that lead him to the body of a sixteen-year-old girl.

Susan Blacklock would be thirty now. But fourteen years ago she disappeared, and for fourteen years the case of the missing schoolgirl with a flair for drama has gone unsolved. Not that Elder hadn’t had his suspects. In fact, he’d seen the two of them—Shane Donald and Alan McKeirnan—convicted a year later for the brutal rape and murder of another young, pretty girl whose body had been buried in a sandy grave. And now, with Shane granted an early release from prison, Elder feels compelled to return to the seaside scenes of the crime.

Shane does not feel comfortable at the halfway house. Abused by his father, by two older brothers, by Alan McKeirnan, Shane has been bred to distrust authority, so when he’s threatened at knifepoint by a fellow resident at the hostel he breaks parole: He bolts. Shortly thereafter, on an outing with two friends from school, pretty Emma Harrison goes missing. Her body is found in a shallow, sandy grave.

As Elder knows Shane’s history, the fiftyish ex-policeman becomes crucial to the official investigation into the disquieting case. Unwittingly, he is also vital to its perpetration. For with cryptic messages on seaside postcards and a few purposefully planted clues, in a plot as deftly woven as it is suspensefully executed, the killer is drawing Elder inexorably into the very heart of the criminal matter. Elder’s daughter is already there.

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