Immerse yourself in London’s swinging 1960s in William Shaw’s Breen and Tozer books: an impeccably researched police procedural series that the New York Times has called “an elegy for an entire alienated generation.”
Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen is of the generation for whom reaching adulthood meant turning into one’s parents and accepting one’s place in the world. But the world around him is changing beyond recognition—and nothing illustrates the shift more than Constable Helen Tozer, a brazen and rambunctious young woman who crosses Breen’s path when she becomes the first woman to enter their murder unit in book one.
Together Breen and Tozer investigate the crimes that wind through their transforming city, crossing paths with hippies, rock stars, and luminaries of the modern art world. Over the course of the series, a well-drawn, satisfying friendship emerges between this unlikely crime-fighting duo.
For fans of historically-accurate period novels, these books are also a special treat, as Shaw’s fast-paced writing de-glorifies the often romanticized decade, and stays true to the casual prejudice woven into the era’s social mores.
So, what are you waiting for? Check out our roadmap of the Breen and Tozer series below, and dive in!
William Shaw’s Breen and Tozer Books in Order
The police are called to a residential street in St John’s Wood where an unidentified young woman has been strangled. Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen believes she may be one of the many Beatles fans who regularly camp outside Abbey Road Studios. With his reputation tarnished by an inexplicable act of cowardice, this is Breen’s last chance to prove he’s up to the job. Joined by Helen Tozer, a brazen and rambunctious young policewoman assigned to assist him with the case, Breen must navigate a world on edge, where conservative tradition gives way to frightening new freedoms-and troubling new crimes.
London, November 1968. Detective Sergeant Breen has a death threat in his inbox and a mutilated body on his hands. The dead man was the wayward son of a rising politician and everywhere Breen turns to investigate, he finds himself obstructed and increasingly alienated. Worse, as Breen's actions begin to endanger those at the top of a corrupt and fracturing law enforcement system, he becomes a target. Calling upon the help of his colleague Constable Helen Tozer, Breen is finally forced to fight fire with fire in a case that reveals the shadow beyond the spotlight and the crimes committed in the name of liberation.
After being wounded in the line of duty, Detective Sergeant Breen recuperates on the family farm of his former partner Helen Tozer. To fill the time, he reviews the open case file for a murder that has haunted Helen for years: that of her younger sister. Breen discovers that the teenage victim had been having a secret affair with James Fletchet, the son of an affluent local landowner, celebrated for his service in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising. But when Breen and Tozer return to London's Criminal Investigation Division, their questions are met with resistance and suspicion. The deeper they probe, the more colleagues are implicated in their investigation, until the two are swept up in a battle with the most powerful members of London society.
In the summer of ’69, the hard-living rockers of the British Invasion still rule London when former Rolling Stone Brian Jones is found floating in the pool of his palatial home. Meanwhile, on a quiet residential block that should be far removed from the swinging party scene, Detective Cathal Breen investigates the murder of a young call girl. Yet unexpected connections begin to surface between the two cases, and as Breen's investigations deepen, he receives a pointed warning: watch your back. Breen and his partner, Tozer, must draw upon all of their combined wits and investigative prowess in this tense, blisteringly paced thriller set against the darkly technicolor backdrop of a London at the cusp of the '70s.