The second volume of the Breen and Tozer series depends heavily on the first. It extends several story lines from “She’s Leaving Home,” revealing for the first time their depth and darkness. Volume 2, like its prequel, incorporated newsworthy events, historic figures, especially the exponents of the arts and the changing cultural scene. The “generation gap” and the conflicting values of parents and children feature prominently, especially as they relate to politics, art, urban development and the drug scene.
Detective work takes a back seat to the analysis of the sociological landscape of 1968-9. The older generation may have scratched its way to the top within Harold Wilson’s New Britain, but many of its rich, confident and hedonistic children sneered at their prestigious parents. The young espoused the belief that if they were to free themselves from moral restraints, they and the world would know peace. Pop culture deified the “cool,” who attracted unquestioning followers escaping from the restrictions of the establishment. When hedonism led to addiction and freedom to bondage, Breen and Tozer picked up the pieces.
Helen Tozer’s ability to engage suspects and follow leads missed by others insured her succeed as a copper. However, her cold reception within the Criminal Investigation Division and her father’s deteriorating mind discourage her law enforcement ambitions. She loved London but had to think of her family.
Paddy Breen attracted the wrath of several who would gladly see him dead. Official interference blocked his investigations. Sidelined, he continued to puzzle over scattered shreds of evidence. His freelance activities repeatedly led him into danger, ruined more than a few suits and shed his blood. His relation to Tozer continued to develop. In the end, Paddy found that he had changed and not necessarily for the better.
Volume 2 sets up the further adventures for Breen and Tozer in Volume 3.