Leeds, England. March, 1895. The day after his release from prison, petty criminal Henry White is found stabbed to death at his terraced home on Copper Street. Pursuing enquiries in a neighbourhood where people are suspicious of strangers and hostile to the police, DI Tom Harper and his team find the investigation hard going. If anyone knows anything about Henry White s murder or the robbery that landed him in gaol in the first place they are unable or unwilling to say.
At the same time, acid is thrown over a young boy in a local bakery in a seemingly unprovoked attack.
Praying for a breakthrough, Harper knows that he must uncover the motive in each case if he is to have any chance of catching the culprits. One thing is certain: if he doesn’t find answers soon, more deaths will follow.
In May 2017, Booklist named On Copper Street as one of the Best Crime Novels of the last 12 Months.
A review on the Crime Fiction Lover blog here:
“The domestic and personal passages, things like Harper contemplations about his role in society or his wife grieving over Maguire, are so compelling that the mystery aspects of the book almost get in the way. The glimpses you get into the hearts of mind of these people really make this a unique and engaging book and are what you end up looking for as you read.
But to author’s credit he ramps up the stakes continually and the book is full of surprises that sustain the tension. The end is strong and satisfying. But what is best here is how Nickson uses Harper and the mystery genre to examine his protagonist’s internal conflicts. This is the compelling story of a man who is doing all he can to restore order in Leeds, the place he’s calls home for himself and his family.”
From Publishers Weekly:
“In Nickson’s crackerjack fifth police procedural set in late-19th-century Leeds (after 2016’s The Iron Water), Det. Insp. Tom Harper takes charge of two cases: the death of a man who has just been released from prison, and a horrific acid attack on two 13-year-old children. These draw him into a world of petty crime, poverty, and corruption. Meanwhile, the activities of Tom’s wife, Annabelle, a dedicated suffragette and a proponent of the newly formed Labour Party, shed light on the inner workings of the Socialist movement and on real-life activist Tom Maguire, one of the unsung heroes of British political history. Nickson successfully creates an intimacy between the characters and the reader by showing, with each successive book, how his protagonists grow and change as they face life’s milestones: marriage, children, promotions at work, and the death of dear friends.”
The Booklist review (starred):
“It’s another winner in Nickson’s top-notch Tom Harper series. Set in Leeds, England, at the end of the nineteenth century, the story features meticulously researched period detail; a strong sense of the social, economic, and political situation at the time; and intriguing insights into how police functioned in the days before technology changed everything. Harper’s latest case begins when Henry White, a fence of stolen goods and recently released from prison, is discovered stabbed to death. Harper is furious because he wanted to use White to get to the mysterious crime kingpin behind the robbery that sent White to prison. Then a friend of Harper’s is found dead of pneumonia, two teenagers are seriously injured in an acid attack, and Harper discovers that his boss and mentor has terminal cancer. Long days and lots of shoe leather lead only to increasing frustration for Harper and his team. An outstanding entry in an excellent historical-mystery series that deserves more attention.”
From the Fully Booked blog. Read the entire review here:
“When the sad time comes for Chris Nickson to shuffle off this mortal coil you will probably find the word ‘Leeds’ engraved on his heart. His knowledge of the city encompasses every nook and cranny, every church, chapel and graveyard, every legend, every tall tale, every dark hour and every moment of joy….Nickson doesn’t preach and neither does he bang the table and browbeat. He recognises that the Leeds of 1895 is what it is – loud, smelly, bustling, full of stark contrasts, yet vibrant and fascinating.”
From Kirkus Reviews – read it all here:
“Nickson is particularly adept at fleshing out his characters and providing a surprising solution to this procedural.”
From the Historical Novel Society. Read it in full here:
“Like every Harper novel (and, incidentally, every book Nickson has penned), this is an engaging read. What’s on offer is a solid Victorian police procedural with a likeable protagonist, a strong storyline, and a vibrant cast of secondary characters who illustrate different aspects of the Leeds setting (e.g., grime and crime of the lower classes; the middle-class moving up) and the social issues it engenders (suffragism, workers’ rights). All are woven naturally into the mystery storyline. In the craft of the historical police procedural, Nickson remains one of the most adept practitioners. Read him.”