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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Bilson

Old Sins by Jane A. Adams

In the wake of the stock market crash of 1929, a rash of suicides turn out to be anything but as Detective Chief Inspector Henry Johnstone is warned a criminal he helped put away is out again and might be gunning for him.

The author sets the scene well, with the strata of late 1920s English society delicately delineated with the various characters (although it did drive me insane when one character was referred to incorrectly - Sir Ralph Helford would be abbreviated to Sir Ralph, never Sir Helford). The snobbery from the ‘old money’ families is grating to Johnstone, as is the fact that they have a great deal of influence. The more things change, the more they stay the same, it seems - a century later and there are different rules for the rich and powerful still.

This is the sixth in this series, and I haven’t read any of the previous books, so I suspect I’ve missed a lot of character building of Henry in particular, his sidekick Detective Sergeant Mickey Hitchens and his sister Cynthia. The case investigated here is a standalone, though, so I was able to follow along pretty well. The story is well written and believable, and the historical details felt accurate.

The problem was, I found it kind of boring. It’s hard to empathise with the victims for the most part - rich people overextending in a bid to get richer doesn’t evoke much sympathy from your average person struggling to get by, something which seems particularly timely at the moment - I don’t think you’ll find much sympathy for the hedge funds who got burned shorting GameStop, for example. Yes, the villain resorts to some crummy tactics, threatening innocent women and children, and the action builds steadily to the climax, but for the first half of the book I just couldn’t get invested in the story because nobody I actually felt any empathy for was experiencing difficulties.

This really wasn’t my cup of tea, but I am going to give it four stars for the quality of the writing.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.

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