His involvement with Esme, however, has also created a second avenue the authorities could use to bring Baz unstuck, though Esme's smart enough to avoid spilling the actual beans. Winter's despatched to tidy things up when a partner in one of Mackenzie's schemes (a block of apartments and a hotel in Spain) turns out to be a London drug dealer with the Metropolitan Police breathing down his neck rather than the casino operator he presented as.

Then, with marital discord causing Esme and her merchant banker husband to leave their three kids in an isolated country house with the au pair some thug breaks into the house and kidnaps the eldest son in an almost clinical operation. The matter is reported \and offers another avenue to infiltrate the Mackenzie organisation since they're going to need officers on the spot when the phone calls about the ransom start coming in.

Apart from tidying up the various strands involving Esme and the Spanish development, Winter also has a problem in the shape of the Tide Turn Trust, Bazza's new pet project which will cement his new respectability through an intervention in the lives of Portsmouth's underprivileged youth.

Although he's been allocated the responsibility for looking after Tide Turn it's not Winter's kettle of fish, and he manages to persuade Bazza they need assistance from a professional social worker, and he comes up with the perfect solution in Mo Sturrock, currently on gardening leave after speaking his mind at a conference rather than reading from the prepared script he was supposed to deliver.

Sturrock's plan to intervene and turn around the lives of the hard core youth gangs that are running an extortion racket to fund Kyle Munday's funeral is the sort of thing that needs a major occasion to launch, and invitations are duly sent to Faraday's superiors, who are still smarting from being outwitted by Mackenzie's decision to pay the ransom for the grandson's kidnapping himself without police involvement and send Winter, supposedly with a million pounds in cash that has ostentatiously been withdrawn from the bank, to lead the police on a wild goose chase.

Then, when Sturrock's scheme looks like providing an opportunity to leave Baz with egg on his face, that one blows up in their faces as well.

Having run through this series as I ran across the titles rather than hitting them in the appropriate order I can vouch for the fact that the individual titles work well enough as stand alones, but I'd still suggest Turnstone as the best starting point. As a series, the books are good enough to have the missing titles on the watch list (you'll find the odd Hurley title in the el cheapo bins at various newsagents) and I'll eventually be doing a reread in the right order exercise.

That's going to happen because Hurley works his plot lines skilfully, with half a dozen seemingly unrelated strands getting themselves tied together in the end. Fair enough, you might say, that tying together apparently unrelated subplots is a key part of the whole crime fiction genre. The difference here lies in the developing interaction between good cop who's rapidly becoming disillusioned (Faraday), bad cop who's gone over to the dark side but still has time for his old boss (Winter) and Mackenzie, who should, by rights be bringing himself unstuck but miraculously stays one step ahead of the pack.

That interaction makes the Faraday series, for my money, one of the best going around and Beyond Reach is quite possibly the best of the series to date.

© Ian Hughes 2012