On Copper Street by Chris Nickson
Detective Inspector Tom Harper finds answers hard to come by in his latest, most challenging, investigation to date.
Leeds, England. March, 1895. The day after his release from prison, petty criminal Henry White is found stabbed to death at his terraced home on Copper Street. Pursuing enquiries in a neighbourhood where people are suspicious of strangers and hostile to the police, DI Tom Harper and his team find the investigation hard going. If anyone knows anything about Henry White s murder or the robbery that landed him in gaol in the first place they are unable or unwilling to say.
At the same time, acid is thrown over a young boy in a local bakery in a seemingly unprovoked attack.
Praying for a breakthrough, Harper knows that he must uncover the motive in each case if he is to have any chance of catching the culprits. Of one thing he is certain: if he doesn’t find answers soon, more deaths will follow.
On copper street is the fifth instalment in the Tom Harper series, set in 1895 Victorian London. This is in my opinion Tom’s most complex case to date.
The novel opens with Tom performing a routine check-up on Henry White’s residence. Henry having recently been realised from goal for robbery. Tom arrives to find Henry’s dead body; he appears to have been killed during his sleep. It isn’t long before Tom becomes distracted by the dead body of Tom Maguire and a recent acid attack on a young boy in a Bakery! With body’s stacking up it appears Tom is going to have to keep his wits about him!
The young victim of the acid attack Arthur Crabtree is blinded in the incident and a young bakery assistant (Annie Johnson) is also left disfigured. This attack happens in Tom’s old partner Billy Reed’s wife’s bakery. So we quickly see the return of Billy to the case in question. Billy is keen but doubts his skills at detective work, requiring some encouragement from Tom. Is the acid attack the work of a madman? Or something far more sinister?
Tom’s young daughter Mary is now 3 and wife Annabelle as independent as ever with her suffragist/political and union goals. Tom is called to speak with Superintendent Kendall & learns he is leaving his post due to ill health. Will Tom take over? Will he be approved to when his wife’s opinions are known far & wide over Leeds? Fear/poverty/inequality and secrets are rife in this novel and ultimately it is what makes it so gripping to read! The rich/poor divide rarely ever has no effect on the crimes in hand. I felt this is the first time we see changing times in Leeds. There is so much historical relevance, especially with the real life character portrayal of Tom Maguire. This got me really thinking about northern English Heroes and how they almost fade from history without authors like Chris Nickson to bring them back to life! Emmeline Pankhurst, William Tuke and Joseph Rowntree are 3 of the northern heroes I grew up being told all about as a young Lancashire lass. This series has fantastic characterisation, not only of the central characters but also of the wrong uns and misfits! The dialogue adds authenticity and the historical facts add up! If you have been reading historical fiction but haven’t discovered Chris Nickson, now is your chance J A huge 5* from me!
*I received an Ebook copy via netgalley in return for an honest review.