Gun violence and the ambiguities of justice add a topical edge to British author Nickson’s solid third Tom Harper police procedural (after 2015’s Two Bronze Pennies), set in Leeds in 1891. Shortly after the police discover a dead infant who was packaged and mailed in an anonymous parcel, Harper rushes to a huge blaze accidentally ignited at the city’s railway station. A female body there is partially sheathed in silvery metal liquefied in the fire, but she’s dead by stabbing. Harper’s team identifies her as former servant Catherine Carr, who married an elderly factory owner but fled his abuse six months earlier. Meanwhile, Catherine’s brother, a military veteran institutionalized for violent rages, escapes to begin sniper attacks, possibly spurred by his sister’s death. Subplots involving the unidentified infant, Harper’s failing hearing, his wife’s suffragist awakening, and tensions between himself and his former sergeant, Billy Reed, add appealing warmth. Nickson resolves the mystery of the dead baby in a believable, nuanced way. Agent: Tina Betts, Andrew Mann Agency (U.K.).
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016 Release date: 03/01/2016 Genre: Fiction