A Victorian police detective’s newest cases and the vicissitudes of his private life give him cause to ponder his own mortality.
DI Harper of the Leeds police is surprised when Henry White, a fence just released from prison after having been caught with stolen silver, is found stabbed to death. White would never name the man he was carrying the silver for, and now he never will. Superintendent Kendall, a man who’s been like a father to Harper, announces that he’s dying of cancer and has recommended Harper to assume his post. In addition, the death of union activist Tom Maguire, alone and uncared for, provokes both Harper and his wife, Annabelle, to soul-searching. Annabelle, a well-off pub keeper, had sold her string of bakeries to Elizabeth Reed, whose husband, Billy, had a falling out with Harper and quit the police for the fire service. Now a man has entered one of the bakeries and thrown acid in the face of a customer, splashing some on a young woman who works there as well. Billy Reed, who’s on leave for an injury, offers to help in that investigation. Trying to accommodate himself to the demands of his new job and at the same time investigate these cases keeps Harper working long hours, which only get longer when more of White's associates are killed. Can Harper ever track down a criminal who will stop at nothing to escape justice?
Nickson (Modern Crimes, 2017, etc.) is particularly adept at fleshing out his characters and providing a surprising solution to this procedural.