Resurrection is the second Jane Halifax novel by Roger Simpson. As a crime novel, it’s somewhat run of the mill, but as a character study of someone recovering from significant emotional and physical trauma, it’s excellent.
Simpson is also a screenwriter, and originated the character of Jane Halifax in a TV series around thirty years ago. I’d never watched the series, and came to the first novel, “Transgression”, cold. That novel works well for readers unfamiliar with the TV series, and Simpson has structured “Resurrection” in the same way. You don’t need to have seen the TV series, or indeed read the first novel, to enjoy this.
“Resurrection” opens two years after the events of “Transgression”. There are plot reasons for this gap, which eventually become obvious, but it also allows Simpson to avoid the COVID lockdowns. With something close to normal life reasserting itself, Jane is dining with an old friend and colleague. She wants to reassess a case they were both involved with twenty years ago.
As Jane returns home, she’s involved in a major car accident, which leaves her with serious physical injuries, including brain injuries. Almost complete amnesia accompanies these injuries.
As Jane recovers from her injuries and seeks her lost memories, she turns to the case she had been revisiting. She wants to know what her renewed interest in it was. She also hopes to use her investigation as a tool to open up her personal memories. And in the background is another concern: the police aren’t sure whether Jane’s car accident was a genuine accident or a deliberate attack.
Simpson’s depiction of Jane’s brain injury and its impact is strong and nuanced. He tells the story from Jane’s point of view, allowing us to share her confusion and her frustration. I have experienced a brain injury myself, and can attest to how accurate Jane’s reactions are. It is hard to be incapable of things you used to be able to do easily; it is frustrating to know you are not the person you used to be.
This is the strongest element in this novel, and it contributes to a strong character study of an older woman who’s experienced significant emotional trauma throughout her life, and now is dealing with a new, pervasive, emotional and physical challenge.
Simpson is also frank about another aspect of Jane’s age: she is thinking about the choices she made when younger, and whether they’ve shaped the life she truly wanted.
One aspect of Jane’s recovery is the basis of a “twist” late in the narrative. Frankly, I’d seen this coming from early in the novel, so was unsurprised.
I enjoyed this novel quite a lot, despite feeling it is weak as a crime novel. As a character study which happens to have some crime elements, it is strong. It sensitively draws an emotional and vivid picture of Jane in crisis, both physical and emotional. Those looking for a classic crime novel might be disappointed, but other readers will find a great deal that’s worthwhile in “Resurrection”.
Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster (2023)
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Resurrection by Roger Simpson. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I love sharing that joy.
I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember, across all genres. There’s not much I won’t at least try. I’ve been an enthusiastic book reviewer for years. I particularly enjoy discovering writers new to me, and sharing good writing with others.
My career has included time spent writing and editing technical documents, but it’s fiction that really moves me. I’ve reviewed for a number of different outlets over the years, and have been a judge in literary competitions.
I’m now raising little bookworms of my own, which brings a whole new kind of joy to sharing books.
More of my reviews can be found on my review blog www.otherdreamsotherlives.home.blog .