Patrick Mitchell

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John Harvey – Charlie Resnick

He is a world-renowned crime fiction writer; The Times Magazine featured one of his novels in the Top 100 Most Notable Crime Novels of the Last Century. He is also a fine British gentleman who spent a number of years in the pulp fiction world (no, we do not mean Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece). We are talking about none other than the great John Harvey himself.

In this article, we will talk about not only his award-winning Charlie Resnick novels but also his colorful life. We will also find out what John Harvey has in store for us in the foreseeable future. So, read along to know more about this wonderful British crime fiction writer.

About John Harvey’s Early Life

John Harvey was born in London on the 21st of December 1938. He pursued his college education from St. Aloysius’ College in North London, which was a grammar school back in those days.He then went on to study at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Following which, he studied at Hatfield Polytechnic, now known as the University of Hertfordshire.

After Hatfield Polytechnic, Harvey went on to take a Masters Degree in American studies at the University of Nottingham. He even taught Film and Literature at the institute, albeit briefly.

After pursuing his Masters from the University of Nottingham, he spent 12 years teaching English and Drama in secondary schools. He began his teaching career in Heanor, which was a small mining town in the Amber Valley district of Derbyshire in the East Midlands of England.He then went on to teach in Andover, Hampshire. Following that, he taught in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

It was not until 1975 that Harvey started his career as a professional writer. Although a lot of people might find it baffling, he has published more than 100 books since the dawn of this career, most of which were published under many different names.

In these early years as a writer, his aforementioned “pulp fiction” era, Harvey wrote so many paperback fiction novels, both for teenagers and adults, that at it’s peak, he was publishing at the rate of a book every month. It should be mentioned that apart from giving him an income, many of those novels received considerable acclaim and he used this experience to perfect his craft. Finally, in 1989, at the age of 50, he released his first Charlie Resnick novel – Lonely Hearts.

Harvey was also the editor of Slow Dancer magazine. He ran the Slow Dancer Press from 1977 until 1999 and was responsible for publishing poetry and short fiction, which included works by other writers such as Lucille Clifton, Lee Harwood, Kirsty Gunn and more. However, the mediocre reception of short fiction meant that the Slow Dancer Press had to shift to publishing books by crime writers, namely, Julie Smith, Neville Smith, Bill Moody and even Brian Thompson.

Harvey also published his poetry in many small magazines. The most notable pieces were, ‘Ghosts of a Chance’, released in 1992 and Bluer Than This, which came out in 1998.

As if that wasn’t enough, he also did a considerable amount of writing and adapting material for television.

About Charlie Resnick Novels

It was the Charlie Resnick Novels that made John Harvey a legend in the world of crime fiction. And it all started in 1989, with the aforementioned, “Lonely Hearts”.

A total of 13 titles were released, and the final one in the series, which is aptly named, ‘Darkness, Darkness,’ came out in 2014.The 11th title in the series, however, was not a novel; it was a collection of 12 short stories which featured Charlie Resnick.

This series is centered around Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick. Resnick who was of Polish descent, was based in the city of Nottingham. A couple of his defining traits were the love for sandwiches and jazz music.

The series has a very gritty, realistic view of life and references many aspects, particularly the social problems of contemporary Britain. In this interview, courtesy of The Guardian newspaper, he comments on how this has found it’s way into, and is a major feature of his writing.

Here John Harvey discusses his writing at the time of “Darkness Darkness” being released:

In 1998, Harvey came out with “Last Rites”, which most people thought was the final title in the series. However, after a long break of ten years, “Cold in Hand” was released in 2008. And that was followed by “Darkness, Darkness” in 2014. It is interesting to note that the final novel was not the last of Charlie Resnick. In fact, he was featured more recently in the newer crime fiction series – Frank Elder.

The fame and popularity of Charlie Resnick was not just limited to the novels. In fact, on 31 March 1992, BBC came out with the Inspector Resnick TV show. There were two seasons produced and the first one was an adaption of the novel Lonely Hearts. The second season came out in 1993 and was based on the novel – Rough Treatment. Harvey himself wrote the screenplay for both seasons.

The character of Detective Inspector Resnick was played by famed two-time academy award nominee, Tom Wilkinson. You must be familiar with his roles in ‘Michael Clayton’, ‘In the Bedroom’ and ‘Batman Begins’.

Although only the first two novels were adapted for television, many of his novels were played on the radio.

Awards and Honors

John Harvey won quite a few awards in his lifetime. And it all began with the first novel in the Charlie Resnick series. In 1989, The Times named ‘Lonely Hearts’ as one of the 100 Best Crime Novels of the Last Century.

In 1992, Harvey won the Bronze medal at New York Festivals for his work on the ‘Resnick: Lonely Hearts’ TV show.

More recently in 2004, the first novel of his new series – Frank Elder, won him the British Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger as well as the US Barry Award. Later in 2007, he was awarded with the prestigious CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for his lifetime’s achievement in the field of crime writing.

Following his success as an author, he was awarded honorary degrees by his former institutions. In 2009, Harvey received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters from the University of Nottingham. Then in 2013, received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters from the University of Hertfordshire which was formerly known as Hatfield Polytechnic. Interestingly, Harvey has yet another educational certificate.  He took a history of Art certificate course from Birkbeck College, University of London, which he completed with distinction in 2012.

Current Life

John Harvey is now settled in London with his partner and teenage daughter. He is currently working on the fourth and final novel in the Frank Elder series – Body and Soul, which is due on 19 April 2018.

February 19, 2018

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Sherlock Holmes

holmes detective

conan doyle-sherlock holmesOf all the British mystery thrillers and crime fiction writers, it is hard to imagine anyone more accomplished and famous than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Known around the world for his Sherlock Holmes series, this Scottish author towers and triumphs over most when it comes to detective mysteries.

As a master storyteller, he wrote more than 60 Sherlock Holmes mystery novels and short stories, which redefined – and perhaps reinvented the crime-fiction, detective-mystery genre. Mr. Doyle’s work has captivated readers around the world, dazzled critics, and shook up the very foundation of crime writing.

He has been a recipient of countless awards and accolades, lived an illustrious life, and been a source of inspiration for numerous budding authors around the world. Today, we’re going to discuss the life and works of this celebrated author and the character that launched him to greatness.sherlock holmes

About Sir Arthur Conan Doyle And His Early Life

The world-class writer was born on 22 May 1859, as Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Born into an affluent family, he was introduced to the beauty of literature early on in life. Charles Altamont Doyle, his father, was a chronic drinker but Marie Foley, his mother, was well read and always supported young Arthur in practicing his interests.

While the father was a moderately succesful artist, his heavy drinking ensured that he had little to no accomplishments to speak of, while Doyle’s mother always enchanted her son with outlandish tales that sparked his imagination. The family couldn’t stay together due to the father’s drinking problem, and the young author was shipped off to England for education at the age of nine.

He started attending a Jesuit Preparatory School at Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, Lancashire from 1868 to 1870. He then went on to Stonyhurst College for further education for the next five years. He was the type of boy that didn’t respond well to heavy handed discipline and would often show defiance in the face of it. Back then, corporal punishment was a norm, and Doyle often found the life as a student there to be brutal.

Stonyhurst did however prove to be an inspiration for several of the characters in the Sherlock Holmes books, including the name, although not the personality, of his famous detective, and his nemesis, Moriarty (please see the acknowledgement at the bottom of this article, along with a link).

However, he found solace in works of literature and eventually developed his own flair for storytelling. He even created a small fan base among younger students. One of his earliest works of fiction goes by the name of ‘The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe,’ which he wrote after being enrolled at the University of Edinburgh medical school.

He qualified as a doctor and travelled a great deal while learning more about the field of medicine, including a period as a ship’s surgeon. He also attempted to set up practices in various parts of the UK but was not succesful in attracting a sufficient number of patients; he used this “slow time” in his life to return to writing fiction.

His first published piece was ‘The Mystery of Sasassa Valley,’ which was published, anonymously, in Chambers Edinburgh Journal on September 6, 1879. His first Sherlock Holmes publication happened eight years later as ‘A Study in Scarlet’ found its way inside of the Beeton’s Christmas Annual. This is the first time the world read about Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. John Watson.

About The Sherlock Holmes Novels 

The character of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are so popular that even people who do not read books know about them. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective, also known as consulting detective in the novels. His capabilities are proficiency with forensic science, keen observation, and outstanding logical reasoning.

Check out the Sherlock Holmes books at Amazon here…..

Sherlock Holmes uses his skills while investigating the cases for clients that even include the infamous Scotland Yard. Most of the stories are narrated by his roommate and “partner in crime,” Dr. Watson, who almost always accompanies the detective during his investigations. They live together at 221B Baker Street, a famous address among Sherlock Holmes fans.sherlock holmes baker street

It is said that Holmes career span as a detective spans for 23 years, with physician John Watson acting has as his assistant for close to 17. They were roommates till 1887, after which Watson got married and became roommates again after his wife’s untimely death. The owner of the residence is Mrs. Hudson.

Without going much into detective Holmes past life, let us discuss his character traits. Dr. Watson describes his friend as a “Bohemian” in both habit and lifestyle. He also says that Holmes is an eccentric who does not have any regard for modern standards of hygiene or tidiness.

The detective is usually cold and dispassionate in life, but during investigations, he hardly ever fails to get excited. He is a man that sees crime solving as an exact science and follows a stringent method in carrying out the duties. However, Watson often disapproves of his willingness to bend the rules in order to solve a mystery.

Awards And Accolades

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became a favorite among crime mystery lovers in a very short time, garnering acclaim from fans and critics alike. He won many awards – in fact, he won so many awards for his contribution towards literature that it’s impossible to note them all here. However, the most notable ones are the following:

  • Knight of the order of the Crown Italy – 1895
  • Queen’s South Africa medal – 1901
  • Knight bachelor – 1902
  • Order of the Medjidie (second class) – 1907

It is estimated that over 60 million copies of ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ have sold from 1887 to mid-2014, and have been translated into more than 60 languages. And those are the stats for just 1/9 books out there. Even Guinness World Records lists Holmes as the most portrayed character in history! holmes detective

There have been numerous plays, movies, and TV adaptations throughout the years. The most recent being ‘Sherlock’ airing on BBC, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman playing the role of Sherlock and Dr. Watson respectively which is set in modern times. I’m not a fan but many millions obviously are.

Personal Life And Legacy

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle married Louisa Hawkins in 1885, but their union was short-lived as she died of tuberculosis in the year 1906, leaving behind two children. He then got married to Jean Elizabeth Leckie in 1907 and fathered three more children. It is said that Mr. Doyle fell in love with her while his first wife was alive.

The author got deeply involved in the study of the occult later in life and pursued it with the same zeal as he did with writing. He supported Christian spiritualism and was a member of The Ghost Club Organization, a club of sorts that believed in the existence of the supernatural. Mr. Doyle suffered from angina pectoris and eventually succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 71.

A gargantuan figure in the world of literature had passed, leaving all his fans mourning. A statue in his honor was built in Crowborough, where he lived for close to 23 years.