Review: Two Bronze Pennies by Chris Nickson (#2 in the Tom Harper series)

I recently saw that book 5 in the Tom Harper series by Chris Nickson was due for release this month. I immediately want to bring my reading on this series up to date. So came the challenge to read books 2-5 in a few short days! Hence me taking a little break from blogging! 🙂

The series is set in Victorian Leeds and has so much to offer the reader! But I shall let my reviews speak for themselves!


Two Bronze pennies By Chris Nickson

The blurb:

The second intriguing historical mystery to feature Detective Inspector Tom Harper

Leeds, England, Christmas Eve, 1890. DI Tom Harper is looking forward to a well-earned rest. But it’s not to be. A young man has been found stabbed to death in the city’s poverty-stricken Jewish district, his body carefully arranged in the shape of a cross, two bronze pennies covering his eyes. Could someone be pursuing a personal vendetta against the Jews?

Harper’s investigations are hampered by the arrival of Capitaine Bertrand Muyrere of the French police, who has come to Leeds to look into the disappearance of the famous French inventor Louis Le Prince, vanished without trace after boarding a train to Paris.

With no one in the close-knit Jewish community talking to the police and with tensions rising, DI Harper realizes he’ll have to resort to more unorthodox methods in order to unmask the killer.

My review:

Two Bronze pennies opens up in 1890 Victorian Leeds. Detective Inspector Tom Harper is recently married to Annabelle when he is called out on Christmas eve to the Leylands are to the scene of a grisly murder. It becomes apparent that the crime has the marks of anti-Semitism and with religious persecution rife in the area & ‘no Jews here’ signs fully on display, Tom knows he has a sensitive case to crack. Tom & partner Billy reed begin their investigation. Billy is an Afghan veteran turned cop and his back story is one of the troubled soldier returning from war.

The descriptions of the area and the general attitudes tin society in that era. Is so brilliantly written, it really adds to the authenticity of the story and I was not surprised to see in the afterword that it is based on fact. There is a side story of missing inventor Louis Le Prince & Thomas Edison. I love this in historical novels, when suddenly a real life person pops up!

The case continues and the crimes mount up, Tom & Billy are coming to a long list of dead ends even with Billy attempting to go undercover within the league for the defence of the realm a local anti-Jew group. They face a language barrier with some of the local Jew community speaking their native Yiddish. Tom has to tact & persuasion when deals with a community used to fleeing persecution. Rabbi Feldman is increasing the pressure for Tom to solve the case, yet he keeps hitting brick walls. He desperately needs a break in the case. With a second body, an attack of arson on a synagogue and an attack on Reed. The case is suddenly very complex. Who is it out there with a personal vendetta to the Jews? And can Tom find them?

I love historical crime, when it is layered in detail and Chris Nickson really delivers on this level. The case and the build-up is gripping and the characterisation is spot on! You grow to love all the central characters in the series. The romance between Tom & Annabelle is touching, yet I love that it fits the era, it has a vintage feel to it. I remember when reading one of the authors other novels I made the following note in my reading journal “this author writes female characters very well” and he’s proved me right again! 5*