Book Review: Bad Penny Blues

Set in London during the early 1960’s, this murder mystery loosely based on the real life Jack the Stripper murders, opens with Police Constable Pete Bradley’s discovery of young woman’s body on the bank of the Thames. She had been working as a prostitute and was the first of many to be found by or in the river. Though only on the force for a year, Bradley becomes immersed in the hunt for the killer while a psychic offers clues by reliving the last minutes of each victim’s life.

Though Unsworth is clearly aiming for a gritty noir, the addition of paranormal influences detracts from what could have been a better rendering. Packed with atmosphere and musical references of the time, the story plunges readers into the sleaze and hallmarks of the time period while providing few surprises along the way.

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