Synopsis: Leeds, England. October, 1891. An unclaimed parcel at the Central Post Office is discovered to contain the decomposing body of a baby boy. It s a gruesome case for DI Tom Harper. Then a fire during the night destroys half the railway station. The next day a woman s body is found in the rubble. But Catherine Carr didn’t die in the blaze: she d been stabbed to death and Harper has to find her killer.
The estranged wife of a wealthy industrialist, Catherine had been involved with the Leeds Suffragist Society, demanding votes for women, the same organization for which Harper s wife Annabelle has just become a speaker. Were Catherine s politics the cause of her death? Or is the husband she abandoned behind it? But when her brother escapes from the asylum and steals a shotgun, Harper has to race to find the answers.
Me: The third installment of the Tom Harper detective novels and probably my favourite of the four released so far.
I’m very biased towards these books. I live and grew up in the city of Leeds where the books are set and I’ve done quite a bit of research on the time period. So there are plus points before we even start. However I’ve grown to love the characters so much. Each one is lovingly described with their own personalities. In some books it’s hard to differentiate between characters but I never find that a problem in this series.
The same goes for the city of Leeds, a character in the book itself. It’s so easy to picture the Victorian era, made a little bit more special when you know exactly where most of the streets are.
In Skin Like Silver my favourite of these characters really starts to shine with yet another interest if mine – the Suffragette movement as she starts to get involved in the meetings and talks of the time. I believe in the upcoming 5th book due out soon she has even more to say on this subject. She’s feisty, speaks her mind and is (wo)man-made successful rather than a society wife that believes in women’s rights as a hobby. Annabel is based on a real life relative of the author and I think I would have really liked to have met her.
But the murder and crimes? A baby in a box sent through the post office. That broke my heart. The fact the people lived in such desperate times that that is the only way they thought the baby could get a decent burial. And again based on a true life story. Victorian era was a magical time of science and wonder but the abject poverty was astounding (my own family included at that time hence the research for myself).
The main murder is of a woman that has finally found herself with the Suffragette movement after escaping domestic violence. A subject close to my heart for many reasons. Mixed in with the great fire of Leeds train station and it’s a tale of loss in so many ways – the woman’s life, the loss of dignity for mill workers prostituting themselves for a few pennies more, the struggle of working with a one time mate who’s friendship was lost.
I loved this book. If you haven’t tried the series then I highly recommend it