We are featuring one of my favourite authors for Prism’s Retro Reads feature…Harper Fox. I first read this book as a new release in November 2012….
Author: Harper Fox
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
A cop and a recovering addict – no chance for romance there.
Yet Vince, a street-hardened narcotics officer, is having to reassess his life. Six months ago, he hit rock-bottom. A bullet brought him down, and his beloved partner Jack betrayed him. Badly disabled and in constant pain, Vince is flying a desk these days, and it doesn’t suit him at all. His world is looking grim when he meets Rowan Clyde, sole surviving witness to a vicious drugs-related killing.
Rowan doesn’t want to talk. He’s vulnerable, trying to hold his own life together in the wake of a crippling addiction. Vince should have no time for him, and Rowan certainly shouldn’t trust a cop with an agenda to get him onto the witness stand at any cost.
Yet despite their differences, there’s an instant pull of attraction between these two damaged men. Their new bond is put to the ultimate test on the tough streets of Newcastle during a dark northern winter, as each turns out to hold the keys to the other’s survival – and to his destruction.
It can be an odd experience re-reading a book you have really enjoyed. I often feel a certain amount of trepidation that I will be unable to recapture the wonder I felt the first time, or horror of horrors actually not like it…
I have read Half Moon Chambers three times now, and had three different reading experiences. The first time I read it as a new release… I was surprised. I have been reading Harper Fox’s work since Life After Joe, which turns out to be 2010, and tend to read them as they are released. I thought I had an idea in my mind of her ‘style’ of plot and narrative voice, and Half Moon Chambers was a little different. I really enjoyed her characters, as always, they are deliciously flawed and although most of her readers will not be policemen, or recovering crack addicts they reveal our flaws in extremis.
So my first read was enjoying the story and I remember being heartbroken when the art and rare books in Rowan’s apartments met their fate. I don’t usually enjoy plot lines that include drugs and associated crime they are usually ‘grit too far’ for me. Maybe, as I have an addictive personality I always feel there — but for a middle class background — wonderful parents and a late University education– go I. I did enjoy the plot line here though.
Anyway, Half Moon Chambers is also set in the city of Newcastle, which to my soft southerner’s mind and upbringing, is the epitome of grit and hard northern values. However, Harper Fox relates the urban landscape to her characters in the same way as she works with rural Northumberland or Cornwall. I also noticed how the writing in Mid Winter Prince whilst set in urban London has a totally different feel again, which is as it should be. Urban landscapes have different feels and cities different personalities, exactly as with rural ones, and Harper Fox can write them both with precision and emotion.
The second time I read this book, I was in bed with flu. This time I became quite depressed about the main protagonist’s back pain- the betrayal by his best friend and erstwhile lover, and the violence perpetrated upon both Vince the policeman, and Rowan the witness and recovering addict. The bleakness of Vince’s tower block flat, and the lack of humanity shown by the drug dealers was too harsh for me then.
This time around I am reading it for review so I concentrated on the plot line, language, continuity, editing and emotional content, which enlightened me as to why I had felt so differently before. This is a book of layers, but most of all it is a book about people. My first two readings had both been correct and that is how it should be when reading a well written complex novel. How the reader feels when approaching a book colours how the reading experience will be, however if the plot line is thin, and the characters cardboard and stereotyped, the experience will be the same each time , as there is nothing in the book to help you emphasise in order to have varied reading experiences. I hope that makes sense!
Half Moon Chambers is a well written, gritty crime story set in Newcastle. The characters are adorable, hateful, pathetic or noble, but never cardboard. The description of Newcastle and it’s surrounds, is coloured by the author’s love for the city as it was, is now and can be in the future.
I include a passage which explains what I was trying to say about the author’s skill with urban/rural features and her characters…
Maybe Rowan Clyde was nothing special in the street, but here, intent upon his work, he sent a strange pang through me. I’d only experienced anything like it when scaling Scafell Pike in the Lakes -my little glass mountain- and I’d reached the top, and turned to look back the way I’d come, and I’d understood that I would never see the world this way again, never again quite like this, rich in sunlight and stitched together by the shadow of a ravens’ wings.
I found this book hard to rate because I would have rated it 4* on first read, 4* on second and 5* on this read, so I have compromised on 4.5*
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
|This post may contain affiliate links.
|Prism Book Alliance® assumes no liability for the ownership of photos or content used in guest posts and interviews. The post author assumes all responsibility and liability for this content.|