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Sunday, 27 June 2021

‘Old Sins’ by Jane A. Adams

Published by Severn House,
31st December 2021.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-9244-7 (HB)

It is October 1929. The killing of two retired police officers, comes to the attention of DCI Henry Johnstone, by a circuitous route, that of a visit by one Otis Freeland, if that is his actual name, Henry isn’t sure. He had met Otis earlier in the year and was uncertain for which government department he actually worked. Knowing that Henry had worked with them in the past Otis suspects that the murders, are tied up with a case on which they and Henry worked at the start of his career in the police force, and which resulted in a man called Richardson being imprisoned. But he has now been released. The killer left a calling card in the hand of one of the victims. Just two words’ Old Sins’.  Are these revenge killings by Richardson? If so, is Henry next?

Henry ponders on the case which brings back unpleasant memories that he would prefer not to dwell upon. But at a fancy dress party given by his sister Cynthia, he collides with a masked flamenco dancer and later finds a note in his pocket with the name of another man.  A warning?

Regardless of his dread of delving into a case that holds bad memories, he nevertheless commences enquires into the man’s situation along with his trusty Sergeant Mickey Hitchens who is sensible, and who at times saves a situation from going wrong. Henry can come across as rather aloof, whereas Micky has a down to earth approach that puts people being questioned at ease. They have mutual respect and enjoy working together.

Jane does a brilliant job of portraying the period.  The Wall Street crash of 1929 impacting on many people who have inherited wealth and taken for granted their style of living suddenly losing everything – many men committing suicide as they realise the enormity of their situation.   Henry’s sister Cynthia is a sensible woman but is aware that her husband Albert is a pushover for a ‘sure investment’. And there are people taking advantage of this panic among the formerly rich offering solutions, which may not be solutions.

As Henry and Micky investigate, they turn up more and more links to debt and blackmail. Names known to Henry surface from the past, and he realises that he personally is in the firing line.  But not just him for these are ruthless people and threatening family members is all in a day’s work.  Apart from being a fascinating mystery, this the sixth book in the series is a complex story, set against a vivid portrayal of the period.   Most highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Jane Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing; martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. Several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Seven titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and six titles featuring Rina Martin. In 2016 she started a series set between the two World Wars and featuring Detective Inspector Henry Johnstone and his sergeant, Micky Hitchens.  Bury Me Deep is the first book in a series featuring Detective Inspector Rozlyn Priest.  Jane has also written several standalone novels. She is married with two children.

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