A Dark Steel Death – The Video

Leeds, December 5, 1916

The car slid quickly through the streets. Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper stared out of the window. Leeds was black, a wartime winter-darkness, barely a single thin sliver of light showing through the blackout. A quarter of an hour before, he’d been comfortably asleep in bed, until he was torn out of a dream by the telephone bell. As he hurried to answer, he wondered if it was finally happening: the Zeppelins had come to attack Leeds.

            No. This was worse. Far worse.

            He could see the fire from half a mile away. Flames licked high into the sky. A moment later he smelled the hard, overwhelming stink of cordite.

            ‘Duty sergeant, sir.’ He’d had to press the receiver against his good ear to make out the words. The man’s voice was flat, empty of expression. ‘Our officers at Filling Station Number One rang in. There’s been an explosion. A car is on its way for you.’           

  Filling Station Number One. Everyone around here knew it by a different name – Barnbow.

The book is out everywhere, hardback and e-book, in September. You can pre-order it now.

A Brand New Tom Harper Novel

Later this year, there’s a new Tom Harper book coming. It’s called A Dark Steel Death and it’s set during the First World War…

Leeds. December, 1916. Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is called out in the middle of the night when a huge explosion rips through a munitions factory supplying war materials, leaving death and destruction in its wake. A month later, matches and paper to start a fire are found in an army clothing depot. It’s a chilling discovery: there’s a saboteur running loose on the streets of Leeds. 

As so many give their lives in the trenches, Harper and his men are working harder than ever – and their investigation takes a dark twist with two shootings, at the local steelworks and a hospital. With his back against the wall and the war effort at stake, Harper can’t afford to fail. But can he catch the traitor intent on bringing terror to Leeds? 

Would you like a very early look at the cover? Scroll down. But first, I’m going to say with pride that the beautiful Leeds Library, the oldest subscription library in Britain, founded in 1768 (read about it here) has listed their most-borrowed titles of the last 30 years, and The Broken Token is in there at number eight, among some huge names. I honestly feel pretty humble.

And now for the cover of A Dark Steel Death. What do you think? Please, let me know.

Some Bright News In Dark Times

Even in the brief flurry of sunshine and warmth we’re experiencing in Leeds right now, I know the days are dark. It doesn’t matter where you live. In Seattle, where I spent many years, it’s literally dark and choking with the smoke from the fires up and down the coast and father inland. You’ve probably seen the photos from California and Oregon, where the world looks like part of the apocalypse.

It’s hard not to be downhearted and depressed. I find solace in escaping to my allotment, where nothing else can touch me and I live simply doing the jobs in front of me (this week, stripping the borlotti beans – there are a lot this years, it seems!) and taking down the vice, before preparing that bed for winter. After that, pick blackberries and the rest of the apples. There’s a sense of order, of continuity in it all that makes me happy.

But I do have some more sunshine this week. First to bring you up to speed. The third Simon Westow novel will be published in the UK at the end of December. It’s called To The Dark, and yes, it’s dark indeed. For some reason, it’s not showing up to pre-order on Amazon. However, good independent shops will be glad to take your order, or there’s Speedy Hen, which has the lowest price I’ve seen and free postage. Look here.

What’s it about? I’m glad you asked: The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill. A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can.

The middle of 2021 will bring Brass Lives, the ninth Tom Harper novel, set in 1913. It features a boy from Quarry Hill in Leeds who went to New York when he was 10 to join his mother. More than a decade on and he’s come back to see his father. Over in America he’s made a reputation as a gangster and a killer. The problem is that death has followed him to Leeds. It’s inspired by Owen ‘Owney’ Madden, whose true story is well worth reading. One of the few in his line of work who retired and lived to a ripe age.

And now….drum roll.

I’ve signed a deal for a fourth Simon Westow, tentatively titled The Blood Covenant, set in 1823. Very likely to appear at the end of 2021 in the UK. And also A Dark Steel Death, the 10th (!) Tom Harper novel, which is set in 1917, and probably out in the middle of 2022 – assuming we’re all alive them.

And no, I won’t tell you more about them. You’ll have to wait.

2022…I’m not even sure I can think that far ahead. But I have to now.