Imperfect Investigator   Leave a comment

In The Hollow Man, British author Oliver Harris presents one of those multi-flawed detectives that have become so popular in recent crime fiction. Okay, maybe it’s not necessarily a recent trend, but his protagonist Nick Belsey is one ambiguous cop who seems to be nearly invisible to those around him given what he gets away with in plain view.

Belsey is a Detective Constable with the London Police and the hefty catalog of his indiscretions, mostly involving gambling, drinking and abuse of position, overshadows his negligible good qualities. Yet, as Harris provides more and more insight into his character’s personality, it’s clear that even though Belsey wears the good guy’s white hat, it is set exceptionally askew.

It appears that Belsey has hit rock bottom in his personal life, consisting primarily of self-destructive behaviors, which has caught up with his career. He’s facing a formal inquiry with a forced leave of absence looming over his head. Despite this, he becomes embroiled in a murder investigation which he links to a major financial crime and sees as an opportunity to (illegally) change his life.

The novel is engaging and full of dark humor. In spite of Belsey’s conduct, it’s impossible not to wonder if he’ll continue on his path to ruin or see the error of his ways. The major flaw comes in the form of Belsey simply flashing his badge to get near crime scenes and restricted information given that he should have either restricted or no access due to his own transgressions.

The Hollow Man
Three-and-a-half Bookmarks
Bourbon Street Books (HarperCollins), 2012
470 pages

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