Review of Graham Hurley’s Happy Days

So, here we are. At the end of the line. They say to travel is always better than to arrive and that is nowhere more true than in this instance because the destination can bring only sadness. Graham Hurley’s superlative Faraday and Winter series is over. I haven’t felt this way since I finished Blue at the Mizzen, by Patrick O’Brian. A very different genre, but an equally compelling story arc. As a crime writer myself I would be happy to produce something a tenth as good as this body of work.

In my view the series has been about humanity. Not a surface-thin political vision wrapped up in soundbites and glossy brochures, but a deep-down sense of what is right and wrong, of what it means to be human, to live and learn, to change. That’s heady stuff for something that is ‘only’ crime fiction, but then this is what sets Hurley apart from the crowd, his work head and shoulders above the rest.

Way back in book number one, Turnstone, we met Joe Faraday, who appeared to be the liberal, caring character who would hold up our ideals – ‘Hurley’s decent, persistent cop’ according to the Guardian. But as the story evolves, book-by-book we can see Faraday losing it, becoming ineffectual against the tide of awfulness sweeping the country, his actions make no difference. Thank goodness the books concluded before the riots of 2011. Whatever would Faraday have made of them? (he would have become even more depressed, one imagines!)

On the other side of the fence – eventually the ‘Dark Side’ – DC Paul Winter was, at first sight, Faraday’s opposite, his nemesis. Now, after the final book, I look back and conclude that Winter was the more human of the two, the character whose moral trajectory took him on a journey where he discovered not only the nature of good and evil, but where he found himself and learnt the hard way – the only way – the difference between right and wrong. In the end Winter is the character we can learn from, for despite his failings, he achieved, in his own way, redemption.

And anyway, forgetting all the waffle above, if you had to choose which one to sit down and have a drink with… no contest, is it?

I look forward to D/C Suttle’s move to Devon, my only concern being that is where my own series is set. It is something akin to going down the local tennis club to find your opponent is Roger Federer, or going out on your morning run and having Usain Bolt jog along beside you.

What else to say? I’ll sum up in the only way appropriate. How was it for you?

Cushty, mate!

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