Introducing Detective Inspector Tom Harper in a brand-new historical mystery series.
June 1890. Leeds is close to breaking point. The gas workers are on strike. Supplies are dangerously low. Factories and businesses are closing; the lamps are going unlit at night.
Detective Inspector Tom Harper has more urgent matters on his mind. The beat constable claims eight-year-old Martha Parkinson has disappeared. Her father insists she’s visiting an aunt in Halifax – but Harper doesn’t believe him. When Col Parkinson is found dead the following morning, the case takes on an increasing desperation.
But then Harper’s search for Martha is interrupted by the murder of a replacement gas worker, stabbed to death outside the Town Hall while surrounded by a hostile mob. Pushed to find a quick solution, Harper discovers that there’s more to this killing than meets the eye – and that there may be a connection to Martha’s disappearance.
A gas workers' strike cripples Leeds in Nickson's strong first in a new Victorian series. As the police prepare to cope with the controversial arrival of nonunion replacement workers, Insp. Tom Harper learns that eight-year-old Martha Parkinson is missing. When the girl's father, Col, claims that she's visiting an aunt, Harper soon discovers that no such woman exists. Meanwhile, Col is found hanging from a ceiling beam in his cottage, an apparent suicide. The entire police force is needed to help contain the chaos created by the strike, limiting Harper's time on the Parkinson case. But when a replacement worker is murdered by a pair of sinister strangers also seen with Col, Harper realizes that the mysteries may be connected. Nickson, whose Richard Nottingham series (Fair and Tender Ladies, etc.) depicts Leeds in the early 18th century, evokes the 1890 city with accuracy and color. Solidly characterized protagonists with interesting vulnerabilities are a plus.