The Tin God

Written by Chris Nickson
Review by Bethany Latham

Superintendent Tom Harper chafes at the routine of administration, “trying to recall when he’d once believed that coppering meant solving crimes.” His wife, Annabelle, is standing for Poor Law Guardian – one of the few public offices open to women. Someone doesn’t want females on the ballot and begins using bombs and murder to attempt to force them out of the race. With his family in danger, this case is personal for Harper.

This series is usually evenly balanced between mystery and character development; this go-round the mystery receives fairly short shrift, the feel more repetitive than procedural as Harper and his comrades follow pointless lead after pointless lead and talk to the same people. When the malefactor is unveiled, Annabelle herself says, “I suppose it’s obvious, once you think about it, isn’t it?” Yet the fruitless leads do offer a sense of the frustration Harper labors under, and the characters inspire engagement and empathy; one enjoys spending time with them, as well as exploring social issues through their lives. While perhaps not the strongest mystery offering in this series, The Tin God is another appealing, excellently written book from Nickson that convincingly captures life in 19th-century Leeds.