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On Copper Street by Chris Nickson
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On Copper Street

by Chris Nickson

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It's surprising how little I remember of this book. I think I had pretty much forgotten the bulk of it within a little while of closing it for the last time. It made very little impact on me as I was reading it; I do remember it being a bit of a slog. Thank goodness for Kindle notes and highlights.

The writing was not difficult, by any means – I can't point to anything much wrong with it. It was perfectly adequate; it was just opaque. The style was frequently choppy. There was a fair amount of statements of the obvious, and some moments which annoyed me deeply. Example: one of the key events at the beginning of the book is a man's senseless attack on a boy in which acid is thrown in the young victim's face. I think the strongest emotion I felt in reading this book was the disgust I felt when a character (which character I don't know; I didn't make a note) remarks sorrowfully on how the boy will be reminded of the attack for the rest of his life, "'Every time he looks in the mirror—'" The problem with this is that the boy would never be looking in another mirror in his life – or into, upon, or at anything else: he was completely blinded in the attack. The character who said it knew the facts of the situation, and no one around him reminded him of how horrendous that sentence had been.

I was also pretty disgusted when some papers went missing – my note on the text was "are you telling me they were the originals"? They couldn't exactly Xerox whatever it was in 1895, but it seemed hard to believe that valuable and important papers were made as vulnerable as these were. It was stupid things like that which shaved away at the rating of the book. It wasn't actively bad - hence three stars … it just wasn't better than average.

I didn't feel any sort of connection with any of the characters. Detective Inspector Tom Harper held next to no interest for me, and I couldn't muster much concern for his family and friends, or his enemies, either. Harper's wife was a suffragist, and would absolutely have burned her bra if bras had been worn in 1895 – and I didn't buy it. There was no believable passion, just an occasional dollop of anachronistic-feeling discourse.

Again, hurrah for the ability to save bits and make notes on my Kindle, because without that crutch a book like this would vanish into some dusty and cobwebby recess of my brain. As I imagine it will five minutes after I hit "post" on this review.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review. ( )
  Stewartry | Sep 7, 2017 |
When petty criminal White is found dead the day after his release from Armley Jail, Inspector Tom Harper immediately thinks that someone was out for revenge. However the death of prominent Socialist Maguire, a family friend, is closer to home and the acid attack on two children is nastier. However another man dies from a single stab wound and he is also associated with White so suddenly there is a complex crime to solve. Meanwhile ex-police sergeant Reed feels that he needs to take up the case of the acid attack. With two serious cases Harper is proud to be promoted to Superintendent but saddens that is comes with the death of his mentor.

This is the fifth outing for Nickson's Victorian detective Tom Harper and once agin the book really satisfies. It doesn't harm my opinion in that the setting is Leeds and that I know some of the places mentioned really well - especially Whitelock's, still going strong century or so later. The myriad storylines weave in and out of each other linking child abuse, corruption, murder and politics. Some characters were real such as socialist politician Maguire and the sense of time and place is excellent. This is a standard police procedural set in another time, well-researched, well plotted and tightly written. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0727886967, Hardcover)

Detective Inspector Tom Harper finds answers hard to come by in his latest, most challenging, investigation to date.

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. Of one thing he is certain: if he doesn’t find answers soon, more deaths will follow.

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 04 Mar 2017 15:42:04 -0500)

Detective Inspector Tom Harper finds answers hard to come by in his latest, most challenging, investigation to date. 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. Of one thing he is certain: if he doesn't find answers soon, more deaths will follow.… (more)

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