The troubled head of the Detective Branch returns, in an intriguing case of kidnap, rebellion and murder...
The body of a vagrant is discovered in a ditch in County Tipperary. Knox, a young Irish policeman with divided loyalties is told that the landowner wants the case dealt with swiftly and quietly. However, when Knox examines the corpse, he realises that this supposed vagrant was wearing a Savile Row suit . . .
Three months earlier, Detective Inspector Pyke was investigating a kidnapping in Wales. The crime seems to be linked to a group of rebels, but Pyke soon suspects the case is not as clear cut as it seems.
What are the links between the rebellion in Wales and the unrest in Ireland - and has Pyke finally bitten off more than he can chew?
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.