A Dark Steel Death
A Tom Harper Mystery
By Chris Nickson
A fire at the munitions factory may not be all it first seems, there is murder, a glimpse of politics, history and intriguing characters all bound together in a compelling story. Find out more in the blurb and then the rest of my thoughts in my review below.
Thanks to Chris Nickson and Severn House for the opportunity to review A Dark Steel Death, a historical crime novel.
Tom Harper must catch a traitor intent on disrupting the war effort and bringing terror to the streets of Leeds in this page-turning mystery.
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?
This is a book with atmosphere, right from the foreboding cover, onwards and steeped with history and policing.
Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is based in Leeds, Yorkshire and with the time being December, 1916, the book shines a light on this era during war times. Within it, there is also mention of Chesterfield in Nottinghamshire and other places have links in various ways.
It’s interesting as, recently there has been lots on tv showing Yorkshire in many ways in present times, so this is a way to delve into its past, as well as readers getting a compelling historical police procedural.
From the first page, it oozes a dark atmosphere out with flames from a large fire at the munitions factory.
Time naturally progresses to January 1917 and the investigation gets off to a quick start and Tom Harper also has Brigadier Fox working with him on the case. As well as the investigation, there are nuggets of the way things work that were brought in then, such as the government bringing in summer time for the clocks, that continues and works for present times. Nickson gives good insight into historical detail that generally isn’t in the day to day knowledge or thinking of people, which adds an extra layer of interest, heritage and grounding, as well as an authenticity to the characters stories being told and the timeline used. There are also small moments of poignancy that give pause for thought.
A soldier had been murdered and as for other people in the midst of the war, grieving, there is a sense of what they are going through and the views, especially from Tom Harper. There’s a sense of community and of people doing their job with people knowing each other and especially Miss Cliff, since she knows everyone. There are also other intriguing characters to discover their positions in the war and their involvement and how sinister they can become.
There are many truths and lies to be unpicked along the paths readers are led down as many people are met.
The mystery itself is interesting, but so are all the strands and people that weave through it, making it a very compelling read, and in time, a very involving page turner.