This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
The Tin God
by Chris Nickson
(Severn House Publishers, £20.99)
THE FIRST petition to Parliament asking for votes for women was presented to the House of Commons on behalf of a Mary Smith from Leeds in August 1832.
That fact gives a pertinent context to this novel, in which Annabelle Harper is one of seven women seeking election as a Poor Law Guardian in 1897, a position that then decided how much relief someone should get or whether they had to go to the workhouse.
It's a fascinating insight into a forgotten history and the book is dedicated to “all the women who keep persisting after warnings, explanation and violence.” Misogyny still resonates today and the “tin god” in this story is a man hell-bent on stopping all seven women from standing for office.
The local newspaper editorial opines that, “while ladies fulfil many invaluable roles in our society, their place is not in the hurly-burly that is politics in our city” and anonymous letter threats escalate into violence when a bomb rips through a church hall where Harper is about to speak, with deadly consequences.
That, and a subsequent attack on their daughter, makes this a deeply personal case for her husband Superintendent Tom Harper. The culprit leaves a scrap of paper at each crime scene containing a fragment from an old tune and Nickson, also a music journalist, introduces us to Frank Kidson, a famous authority on British printed music and a leading folk song historian.
It is another thread which adds a unique twist to what is a classic police procedural. A parallel investigation gets under way in the east coast town of Whitby where Tom Harper's old colleague, Afghan war veteran Inspector Billy Reed, gets embroiled in the world of smuggling and the author tellingly reminds us that Britain had by then already fought two wars in Afghanistan.
The writing, perfectly paced, paints pictures of a polluted industrial Leeds and authentic, likeable characters while authentic contemporary speech and northern colloquialisms fully reflect life at the turn of the last century.
This is the sixth in the Tom Harper series and, while it stands alone well, I'll definitely be going back in time for more.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.