1823. Leeds is tight in the grip of winter, but the cold bites deeper for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant Jane when the body of petty local crook Laurence Poole is revealed by the melting snow at Flay Cross Mill. Just a fortnight before they’d cornered him and retrieved items that he’d stolen. In Poole’s room, Simon discovers a coded notebook that mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds, along with three mysterious words: To the dark. But Harker’s now running for his life, and Simon needs to find out why Poole was murdered. The hunt pits him against some powerful, dangerous enemies who will happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can.
The reviews are starting. This, from Fully Booked, is lovely. You can read it all here.
“As ever with Chris Nickson’s novels we smell the streets and ginnels of Leeds and breathe in its heady mixture of soot, sweat and violence. In one ear is the deafening and relentless collision of iron and steel in the factories, but in the other is the still, small voice of the countryside, just a short walk from the bustle of the town. Nickson is a saner version of The Ancient Mariner. He has a tale to tell, and he will not let go of your sleeve until it is told.”
Kirkus Reviews in the US calls it “Another cleverly detailed mystery thick with historical atmosphere and nuanced characters.” I’ll very gladly take that!
Publishers Weekly has given the book a starred review (hight praise indeed), saying “Nickson again demonstrates mastery of the historical mystery.”
Read the full review here.
The reviewer for Mystery People definitely enjoyed the book: “An incredibly descriptive book which transports the reader back to the grime and thick smoky air of 1883 Leeds. The author creates such an atmosphere that I could almost taste the acrid pollution.” Read the entire review here.
Library Joural had some warm words (no link as it’s paywall): The third “Simon Westow” mystery, following The Hocus Girl, is for readers who appreciate realistic historical atmosphere and details of the sometimes grim life in a 19th-century factory town.
Very happy with this review from Booklist (read it all here): “Fine writing, a carefully crafted story, unexpected plot twists, plenty of human interest, and authentic descriptions of life in nineteenth-century Leeds make this a book with broad appeal for mystery fans.”