Streets of Darkness was published on 16 July 2016 by Transworld Digital and is available to buy here
Luther meets The Wire, this is the first Detective Harry Virdee novel
The sky over Bradford is heavy with foreboding. It always is. But this morning it has reason to be – this morning a body has been found. And it’s not just any body.
Detective Harry Virdee should be at home with his wife. Impending fatherhood should be all he can think about but he’s been suspended from work just as the biggest case of the year lands on what would have been his desk. He can’t keep himself away.
Determined to restore his reputation, Harry is obliged to take to the shadows in search of notorious ex-convict and prime suspect, Lucas Dwight. But as the motivations of the murder threaten to tip an already unstable city into riotous anarchy, Harry finds his preconceptions turned on their head as he discovers what it’s like to be on the other side of the law…
As a Bradfordian who left a long time ago, I had very mixed feeling about reading Streets of Darkness. Bradford was my birthplace and where I spent my childhood. Streets of Darkness is a dark, gritty drama capturing some of the reasons why I find Bradford a tough place to be. This is Bradford crime noir!
Dhand cleverly shares the real Bradford with his readers. This is a Bradford that I am familiar with and also unfamilar with. I never lived in any of the areas of mentioned, but I was aware of them. I glimpsed its darker side, from the prostitution at Thornton Road and the infamous Lumb Lane to the no go areas. Bradford is incredibly segregated racially and religiously with areas totally Asian and areas totally White. To anyone living outside of Bradford, it may seem strange that there are areas you do not venture into. It has a rich cultural history of industrialisation with the mills. It was the hunting ground of the Yorkshire Ripper. Bradford has been in decline for as long as I can remember. In spite of some investment into the city, I see little evidence of real change since I left in the 1990s. As someone who grew up in Clayton (Bradford 14) and saw the potential of Bradford, it is rather sad. This all makes Bradford the ideal setting for a crime novel! A Gotham City, in need of a hero to fix it.
Into the rather bleak landscape of Bradford, we get to know Sikh DI Harry Virdee. Virdee is a law unto himself. He has found himself in trouble and in now suspended from the police. He breaks the rules. He has a temper. He is a real joy to get to know. He stands out married to a Muslim, the very pregnant Saima. That is unusual and very frowned upon. It has separated him from his family and his community. We see Virdee on the tail of a man blamed for the death of a Muslim MP from Bradford West. The MP has been found at Bradford Grammar School with a Swastica on his body. It seems that racial tensions in the city are rising again, with the real threat of violence and riots. Virdee is asked by his boss to find the suspect in the killing of the Bradford MP quickly. As he is suspended, this means he can operate outside the law. This suspect is Lucas Dwight, released from prison a few days ago with far right extremist BNP views.
Dhand does an excellent job establishing Harry Virdee, as a kind of lone ranger copper. He sets the scene beautifully, giving readers a chance to get to know the tough, dirty and complex city, with its drugs, cultural conflicts, manipulative individuals behind the scenes and politics. Nothing is what it seems.
Streets of Darkness is highly recommended and totally and utterly original. More please, Mr. Dhand. You will all want to discover Virdee for yourself!