IN A TRUE LIGHT by John Harvey is a standalone thriller from the writer who is better known for his series of jazz influenced police procedurals featuring Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick . Sloane, a painter, after being released from prison, where he spent time in relation to a forgery case, gets called to Italy to meet his former partner, a famous painter herself. There he is informed that he has a daughter, and that it’s his partners last wish(she is dying of cancer) that he finds that daughter, who has gone off to USA, and has no contact whatsoever with the mother, and tells her that her mother is dead, and that Sloane is her father. He agrees, and finds out that the daughter in question is a singer, and she has hooked up with a shady person called Delaney, with mob connections and a violent streak which makes him aggressive towards women.
The plot was believable, though it was a bit too short. The sequence of the events were well placed and helped in the continuity of the book, but they were in my opinion a bit too short and always felt like a summary of a long scene. But, that didn’t stop the book from being fast. I normally have an aversion towards crime novels where the outcome is known from the first page. Either these books are filled with over detailing, which in my opinion is way of compensating the lack of plot and twist on part of the author, or they are so obvious that trudging through them becomes an ordeal. But in this case, though it felt a bit hurried, the book never felt being over detailed nor was it too obvious to make me yawn.
Coming to the characters, Sloane was believable, and got the required number pages needed to show that behind the bohemian facade he is a caring man. Delaney was frightening, but in a comic way, not funny but it felt that he came out of a comic book where the villains are pretty scary but are never well developed as characters. He needed a few more pages dedicated to his character. Same with Connie, the daughter. Apart from being a jazz singer, and a daughter disconnected with her mother, she remains undeveloped as a character. Again a few extra pages wouldn’t have hurt.
But lastly, a short, fast crime novel filled with a bit underdeveloped characters is far better than an over detailed, richly characterised yet a boring one.