Old Sins (A Henry Johnstone Mystery 6)

Written by Jane A. Adams
Review by Ilysa Magnus

It is 1929 in England, and two retired police officers are dead. Suicide is suspected since both men had been experiencing financial difficulties in the midst of the global economic collapse, but their deaths appear staged. Also, one man has left a note with two words: “Old Sins.” After Detective Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone learns of the suspicious deaths, he attends his sister’s Halloween party, where a flamenco dancer approaches him with a note containing yet another name. Is this a warning?

The deaths force Henry Johnstone back to his early days of policing, when he worked with these policemen on a difficult case; although the police were successful at catching and imprisoning the villain responsible, he has just been released. With his two colleagues dead, Henry believes his life in danger. Will he be the next victim of a revenge killing to punish him for his past mistakes?

Intent on solving the mystery before he loses his life, Henry works with his sidekick, Sgt Mickey Hitchens—a fun contrast to Henry’s seriousness—in this enjoyable police procedural. Although I wasn’t entirely engaged with the characters in what I feel is a stand-alone Johnstone mystery, Adams does deal with some important societal issues, particularly that of the haves and have nots at a time in history where the loss of fortunes drove people to suicide. But because Adams is such a talented writer, and captures the time so atmospherically, this installment is still definitely worth the read.