It's Manchester, July 1996, the month after the IRA bomb, and the Evening News is carrying reports of two murders. On the front page there's a photograph of a glamorous Egyptian woman, a socialite and heiress to an oil fortune, whose partially clothed body has been found in the basement of a block of flats. It would appear that she has been the subject of a sexual attack. In the back pages of the same paper there is a fifty-word piece on the murder of a young prostitute whose body has been found dumped on a roadside near the McVitie's Factory.
For Bane - fixer, loanshark and legman for one of Manchester's established ganglords - it's the second piece of news that hits hardest. Determined to find out what happened to his childhood sweetheart, he searches through the tribes and estates of his bombed city for answers. It soon becomes clear that the two newspaper stories belong on the same page, and that Bane's world belongs to others - those willing to profit from gun arsenals, human trafficking and a Manchester in decay.
The Doll Princess introduces the mesmeric narrator, Henry Bane, a conflicted man caught up in a mire of evil, and his creator, Tom Benn - an assured and exhilarating new voice in literary crime fiction.