The Hocus Girl

Leeds, 1822. Thief-taker Simon Westow owes Davey and Emily Ashton everything – the siblings gave him sanctuary when he needed it most. So when Davey is arrested for sedition and Emily begs Simon for help, he’s determined to clear his friend. Are the answers linked to rumours of a mysterious government spy in town?

Davey’s not the only one who needs Simon’s help. Timber merchant George Ericsson has been ‘hocussed’ by a young woman who spiked his drink and stole his valuable ring and watch. Who is she, and how does she know one of Simon’s assistant Jane’s deepest secrets? It’s a twisted, violent path that leads them to the surprising truth. Simon and Jane encounter murder, lies, betrayal and a government terrified of its own people as they attempt to save Davey and find the hocus girl.


The first review is in, and it’s definitely one that likes the book:

The Hocus Girl is powerful, persuasive and almost impossible to put down.”

Read the whole thing here.

The first US review has arrived (very early) and it’s quite wonderful. A starred review from Kirkus. You can read it all here, but the conclusion: “This historical tour de force reminds readers who come for the mystery that life hasn’t changed for the disenfranchised.”

A wonderful review from Mystery People. Read it all here

” it is unusual for historical crime fiction set in the Regency period because it features a working class, early 19th century detective who lives in a violent, dangerous society…Above all it portrays the helplessness and paralysing fear that ordinary people feel when they are trapped in a situation in which ruthless, self-serving political power crushes human rights. This book is an exciting and powerful read.”

Publishers Weekly have also give the book a starred review (read the entire thing here), concluding : “Historical mysteries don’t get much better than this.”

The Historical Novel Society seem to like the book. The whole review is here.

” This novel offers a complex storyline that demonstrates Simon’s determination to provide justice to the suffering while evil men greedily suck up as much money and power as they can.”

“I wanted to read more about how the events of the plot changed the characters. After getting to know them through these ordeals… But perhaps my desire to watch these characters grow is a testament to the impression they’ve made on me and my curiosity about whether they’ll transcend this gritty city that gives them life while always threatening to take it away.”  That’s BookBrowse on the book. Read in full here.