cover image Brass Lives

Brass Lives

Chris Nickson. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9088-7

The return of Davey Mullen, a notorious thug believed to have killed at least six people in New York, to Leeds, England, his birthplace, drives Nickson’s solid ninth Tom Harper mystery (after 2020’s The Molten City). In 1913, Harper is adjusting to his role as Leeds’s deputy chief constable when multiple murders, which coincide with Mullen’s arrival, get him out from behind his desk and into the streets. In a tense encounter, Harper warns Mullen to stay out of trouble, but Mullen later makes a threatening visit to Harper’s daughter’s shop, a precursor to a suspicious fire that damages the building housing the shop. Harper doesn’t find enough proof to keep Mullen behind bars, and the deaths continue, even as Mullen claims he’s being framed, possibly by a rival from America. The mystery plot isn’t up to the standard of Nickson’s best work, but subplots involving suffragists, including Special Branch’s pursuit of one of the movement’s leaders, enable him to paint a convincing portrait of pre-WWI Leeds. Historical procedural fans will be pleased. Agent: Tina Betts, Andrew Mann (U.K.). (Sept.)