It’s been three and a half years since the last Richard Nottingham book, Fair and Tender Ladies, was published; it feels like much longer. But the six books in the series have a real, deep place in my heart. Not just because they were the first novels of mine to see print. Richard and the others became good friends. When one of them died I felt it inside. To me, they were all very real people. But when my publisher gently suggested that six was enough I waved them farewell – more or less; there were still a couple of short stories.
This year, though, things have changed a little. For reasons no-one understands, sales of those books have been growing, even though most are now only available on ebook. I honestly have no idea why, let alone why now – but I’m happy.
People still email asking if there will be any more in the series; I’ve received more of those in the last months than ever before.
And so I knew Richard and I had some unfinished business.
So, a few weeks ago I approached my publisher with an idea: a new Richard Nottingham book. If ever the time was right, it was now. I’m ready for a short – and I do mean short – break from Tom and Annabelle Harper. Returning to my first family for a spell would be perfect.
I’d asked the question but I had absolutely no idea what the answer might be.
It turned out to be yes. I was over the moon, especially as the news arrived on the day Modern Crimes was launch. Perfect timing.
And so I’m very, very happy to formally announce that Free From All Danger, the seventh Richard Nottingham novel, will be published in the UK in November 2017, then in the US and in ebook about four months later.
Who will be in it? Emily, Richard’s daughter, of course. Rob Lister, her man. Tom Finer, Tom Williamson, and others who will be familiar. As well as some new devils…
I’m grateful for the faith my publisher has in Richard, and even more to those who keep buying the books. To tease you a little, here’s the opening of the novel. I hope it whets your appetite for the rest. Only 13 months to wait!
Leeds, Autumn, 1736
Sometimes he believed he spent too much time in the past, he thought as he crossed Timble Bridge. It was where he spent most of his days now; its lanes and its byways were imprinted on his heart. Once he’d believed there was too much ahead to consider what had gone. But he was young then, eager and reckless and rushing into the future. Now the years had caught up with him. He moved a little more slowly, he preferred to walk with a stick; he was scarred inside and out. His hair was wispy and grey and his face looked creased and folded, with as many lines as a map when he saw it in the glass,
At the Parish Church he turned, following the path to the graves. Rose Waters, his older daughter, married and dead of fever before she could give birth. Mary Nottingham, his wife, murdered because of his own arrogance. Every day he missed her. Both of them. Awkwardly he stooped and picked a leaf from the grass by her headstone. September already. Soon there would be a river of dead leaves as the year tumbled to a close.
Most of the people he cared about were here. John Sedgwick, who’d been his deputy and his friend. Even Amos Worthy. The man had been a panderer, a killer, but they’d shared a curious relationship. Cancer had left him a husk before it too him.
And now there were just two left. Himself and his younger daughter. Richard and Emily Nottingham. She had her man, Rob Lister, now the deputy constable of Leeds, and the road wound out into the distance for them both.
There were more people in his life, of course there were. But so many of those who’d meant most rested here. He stood for a minute. With a sigh he straightened the stock around his neck and walked up Kirkgate. At the jail he glanced through the window. Empty inside, but that was no surprise. Simon Kirkstall, the constable, had died a fortnight before. Simply fallen down one night in the White Swan, a mug of ale in his hand, as his heart stopped beating. Now Rob and the others were working all the hours God sent to cover everything.