Two Bronze Pennies

Written by Chris Nickson
Review by Bethany Latham

Christmas Eve, 1890. Detective Inspector Tom Harper is settling in for the holidays with his new wife when he’s pulled from cozy domesticity into the bitter cold to investigate the murder of a young Jewish man, left with two bronze pennies on his eyes. Soon a synagogue is also set ablaze, and Harper’s superiors need perpetrators in the cells before the fear and unrest sparked in the city’s Jewish quarter blooms into something far more dangerous.

This is the second Tom Harper mystery, and it’s another well-written foray into 19th-century Leeds. Harper is infinitely likable, and both he and the secondary characters are well-developed and engaging. These are people the reader is made to care about, their backstories providing depth to the mystery and counterpoint to the grind of police procedural. Nickson is skillful in both his excellent grasp of dialogue and his portrayal of Industrial Age Leeds, as well as the prejudices of its inhabitants and the plight of its Jewish population. In sum: another well-executed and enjoyable mystery from an author accomplished in this genre. I look forward to the next in the series.