Absence of Mercy: A Lightner and Law Mystery

S.M. Goodwin. Crooked Lane, $26.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-64385-521-9
London Det. Insp. Jasper Lightner, one of the heroes of Goodwin’s promising debut and series launch, suffered a brain injury during the Crimean War that left memories of his life before fragmented. It’s 1857, and Lightner’s aristocratic father, who disapproves of his son’s profession, gives him the option of either accepting a promotion that would remove Lightner from investigative work or traveling to New York City to help train officers in the city’s new police force. Lightner leaps at the chance to work in New York, where policing is the subject of an intense political struggle, and he finds a whodunit: Alard Janssen, an advocate for scientific policing, was strangled before being stabbed. Janssen’s killer removed a chunk of the victim’s body, following a pattern in the murders of two other affluent men, whose cases were considered solved. Hieronymus Law, a disgraced police detective who was assigned to the previous murders, aids Lightner’s probing. Goodwin does a fine job balancing plot and period detail, as well as exploring Lightner’s cognitive challenges. Fans of gritty historicals will be eager for more. Agent: Pamela Hopkins, Hopkins Literary Assoc. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/19/2020
Release date: 11/10/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
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