The murder of a mill owner’s son is only a prelude to racial strife in a strike-threatened Yorkshire town.
Detective Chief Inspector Michael Thackeray (Death In Dark Waters, 2004, etc.) has his hands full with the death of Simon Earnshaw, a stockholder in the Bradfield mill. Thackeray’s lover, reporter Laura Ackroyd, is delving meanwhile into the problems of Pakistani women, who must deal with sexism and harassment from both ends of the religious spectrum. The local neo-Nazis, equally industrious, have made themselves suspects in several horrific hate crimes. When Laura’s father flies in with a possible buyout plan for the mill, Thackeray begins to suspect Simon’s brother, but the murder of the Pakistani union rep and the news that Simon’s missing girlfriend is a Paki on the run from her traditional family keep tempers simmering on every side of the ethnic divide. Detective Constable Omar Sharif is having a hard time dealing with his dual identity as a Muslim police officer, and Thackeray himself remains profoundly conflicted over his relationship with Laura while his brain-damaged wife, their son’s killer, is alive and institutionalized. Thackeray and Laura find so many racists, from the Earnshaw grandfather to Laura’s editor, that it’s easier to connect their cases than to resolve them.
Hall’s plot is intricate, but well worth the effort for its bang-up exploration of ethnic discord in the world after 9/11.