cover image Bloody Winter

Bloody Winter

Andrew Pepper. Phoenix (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-7802-2011-6

Thomas Hardy meets Chinatown in Pepper’s unsparingly bleak fifth noir historical featuring Scotland Yard’s Detective Inspector Pyke (after 2011’s The Detective Branch). In November 1846, Pyke travels from London to the Welsh mining town of Merthyr Tydfil, to help recover a kidnapping victim, the five-year-old son of an old friend, Cathy Hancock, but strangely it’s Cathy’s mine-owner husband, Jonah, who has requested his assistance. Two months later, in Ireland, policeman Michael Knox attempts to identify a body found on the Tipperary estate of Asenath Moore, the third Viscount Cornwallis, who claims the man was a vagrant, despite the expensive London suit he was wearing. When Knox persists in pursuing the case against Moore’s wishes, he pays a heavy price for his defiance. Pepper brilliantly interweaves Pyke’s detective work with Knox’s quest for justice, while contrasting the callous cruelty of the rich and powerful to the heartbreaking suffering of the poor and weak. (Aug.)