It’s the last day and my turn on the Blogtour To The Dark by Chris Nickson.
About the Author
Chris Nickson has published 28 novels, all historical crime, most of them set in Leeds, whose people and history are his passion. The Richard Nottingham series began things, taking place in the 1730s, followed by the Tom Harper novels, which begin in 1890 and have now moved to the 20th century. Between them, Lottie Armstrong, Urban Raven and Dan Markham cover Leeds from the 1920s to the 1950s.
The three books featuring thief-taker Simon Westow explore a changing Leeds, growing rapidly in the 1820s as industry – the factories and mills and belching chimneys – comes to dominate the town. The Hocus Girl, the second in the series, received starred reviews from Kirkus, which called it a “tour de force,” and Publishers Weekly, which declared “historical mysteries don’t get much better than this.’
Chris grew up in Leeds, but lived in the US for many years, making his living as a music journalist. He still reviews occasional releases, but his focus these days is fiction.
About the book
Thief-taker Simon Westow is drawn into a deadly puzzle when the melting snow reveals a dark secret in this gripping historical mystery, perfect for fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch.
Leeds, 1822. The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill.
A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can. (less)
This is the third book in the Simon Westlow Mystery series. It can be read as a standalone novel.
I’m not sure I had read the term thief-taker before, a private individual who captures criminals. I wonder what Sherlock would have thought at being called something so common, merely a thief-taker and not a sleuth, which is what Simon and his team are.
A local thief is found dead, in his possession a notebook with the mysterious words ‘to the dark’ written within, which means nothing to them. Simon has crossed paths with him before in his endeavours to retrieve stolen goods and is determined to solve this crime.
This author has a particular eye for detail when it comes to describing early 19th century Leeds. This enhances the feel of the historical read, because the atmosphere goes hand in hand with the well-developed characters. I think the strength lies within the way the crimes take an almost secondary place to the characters and their relationships, which is a different way of going about it.
It’s a nineteenth century urban crime mystery – a modern crime in an old-fashioned era with a flair of the unknown woven throughout. A series with plenty of potential.