Jazz aficionados with a penchant for detective fiction can do far worse than explore John Harveys excellent Charlie Resnick stories.
Set in the gritty inner city of Nottingham in the east midlands of England Resnick of Polish extraction sleuth's his way to solving crimes against a backdrop of depravation unemployment and dishonor among villains to a soundtrack of jazz aided and abetted by a dedicated team of detectives of which he is the commander.
A good place to start exploring the world of Resnick is "Now's the Time" an anthology of short stories each titled after a Charlie Parker track - "Dexterity" "Bird of Paradise" "Work" among them. Some of the stories stand alone while others spill over into later tales. Villainous small-time crooks show up in a number of the tales.
Sewn into this rich fabric is Resnick's love of jazz. He recalls past gigs unearths recorded gems in tawdry second-hand shops and meets local musicians whose reminiscences include former glories with jazz giants touring England. We meet a club-owning saxophonist with an enviable collection of tapes recorded at his club fallen on hard times. A swing trombonist aged but active until he becomes a victim of small time hoodlums. While none of the artists mentioned make actual appearances (unlike Rafi Zabor's superb "The Bear Comes Home") the reader is left with a sense of being present at the gigs described. Through it all Resnick's sense of fair play compassion honesty and willingness to bend rules to see justice done shines like a bright beacon. If only policing were so adaptable!
Best story? A con man who changes his name with each victim to that of a former Ellington sidesman - Allen Smith Eddie Preston and so on. Resnick recognizes the pattern and when Joe Temperpley comes to town. Well you"ll just have to read the story.
The book concludes with a brief introduction by the author to some of the tracks and albums notarized in the tales together with album details.'Jazz aficionados with a penchant for detective fiction can do far worse than explore John Harveys excellent Charlie Resnick stories.'