The Tin God

Leeds, England. October, 1897.  Superintendent Harper is proud of his wife Annabelle. She’s one of seven women selected to stand for election as a Poor Law Guardian. But even as the campaign begins, Annabelle and the other female candidates start to receive anonymous letters from someone who believes a woman’s place lies firmly in the home.

The threats escalate into outright violence when an explosion rips through the church hall where Annabelle is due to hold a meeting – with fatal consequences. The only piece of evidence Harper has is a scrap of paper left at the scene containing a fragment from an old folk song is. But what is its significance?

As polling day approaches and the attacks increase in menace and intensity, Harper knows he’s in a race against time to uncover the culprit before more deaths follow. With the lives of his wife and daughter at risk, the political becomes cruelly personal …


Me talking about traditional folk music and mystery novels in Stirrings magazine



Day one of the blog tour: ” With the centenary of the women’s right to vote and the dedication at the beginning I felt that this storyline covered a very important time in our history. The author shows how attitudes were very different at the time and how hard the women fought.”

Read the whole review here.

Day three of the blog tour: “The novel is very well researched, the era of politics and women’s rights really draws you into the story. Annabelle is such a great fictional ambassador for women. You can really get a sense for the real-life Annabelle Harpers who would go on to inspire a generation of women. Which would ultimately fuel and evoke a passion in women, long into the future.

The novel raises many thought-provoking questions regarding women’s liberation and the political oppression the women faced. I think this novel would be ideal for book groups. But I could also see how it could assist the younger generation. The Tin God could create great debate in GCSE English lessons or history class. The emotions of the era are portrayed so well on the page.
A fabulous historical fiction crime read. 5*”

Read the whole review and Q&A here.

What right does a man have to write about women’s issues? A superb, thorny question that addresses the heart of The Tin God, and I answer it here.

And here’s the kind of review every writer hopes to receive:

“I absolutely adored this book, right from the very first chapter. I loved the setting, I loved the characters, and I loved the gritty feel of Victorian police work. But more than anything, I was in love with the plucky and persistent Annabelle Harper, and with all the women like her who moved mountains with regards to women’s rights today.

I mean sure, Tom Harper was working a pretty intense bombing/ murder case with a seriously twisted unsub that kept leaving these strange little clues. And sure, there was this whole sub-story wrapped up in traditional folk songs that had me listening to hours and hours of music online. And sure, there was this whole other story about smuggling and booze-running, but the show was definitely stolen by one, little, pub-owning woman who had the nerve to run in an election. That’s all I can say without dropping too many spoilers, but seriously, The Tin God was absolutely amazing!”

There’s more than that, and you can read it all here.

Some wonderful words from the Fully Booked blog. Read the whole review here.

“Nickson drops us straight onto the streets of his beloved Leeds. We smell the stench of the factories, hear the clatter of iron-shod hooves on the cobbles, curse when the soot from the chimneys blackens the garments on our washing lines and – most tellingly – we feel the pangs of hunger gnawing at the bellies of the impoverished.”

More lovely words from Short Book and Scribes. Read the whole review here.

“We’re in Leeds in 1897 and I liked the fact that there were many strong women in the story, running businesses and being feisty about their views.”

A glorious review from Books of all Kinds. The whole thing is here.

“Gripping, inspiring, and brimming with that special something…The historical detail in THE TIN GOD is superb as you are transported back in time where everything comes to life in front of your eyes. In our current world where many are still taking on the establishment, demanding equality for all, fighting to be heard, it was really interesting to read a historical story that highlighted another generation who fought bravely and paved the way for us. There are danger and action, politics, and admirable characters that will inspire you, and it is all perfectly packaged in a novel that never gets tired or repetitive.”

Huge thanks to the Hair Past A Freckle blog. Read the whole review here.

“…on reading The Tin God I couldn’t help but feel sad and angry that over 120 years later there are still those who try to silence women in politics, who threaten them with violence, and as with Jo Cox, even murder them…The rich descriptions throughout give the novel a strong sense of time and place; the sights, sounds and smells of the town’s industries vividly permeate through the pages so I could almost experience them myself, and the close-knit communities of Leeds and Whitby are brought to evocatively to life. There is nothing sentimentally nostalgic about Chris Nickson’s book however, we are never in any doubt that though social change was in the air, these were hard times for many. The Tin God is a superbly researched, riveting and thought-provoking historical mystery. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
And here’s a wonderful review in the Morning Star – the first review for me in a national daily newspaper.
“The writing, perfectly paced, paints pictures of a polluted industrial Leeds and authentic, likeable characters while authentic contemporary speech and northern colloquialisms fully reflect life at the turn of the last century.”
And in print:
From Booklist in the US:
“Police Superintendent Tom Harper likes the status and the pay that come with his new title but misses daily involvement in police work. Also on his mind is the fact that his wife, Annabelle, is running for political office—hardly a typical occurrence in turn-of-the-century England. Despite the obstacles and many constituents’ comments that “a woman’s place is in the home,” Annabelle is determined to run and win. But then she receives a death threat, and a bomb explodes in the hall where she is supposed to give a campaign speech. Tom is both furious and terrified, so he puts his entire force on high alert. But the villain is wily, leaving few clues as to his identity. When the threats to Annabelle become more violent and are extended to the five other women running for office, Tom knows he must stop the perpetrator or risk not only Annabelle’s life but also the idea of a free society where women can run for and hold office. A tense, well-crafted police procedural with authentic period ambience, a clever plot, and an engaging husband and-wife duo in the lead.”
The review from Mystery People magazine:
 And Kirkus is also complimentary. Read the whole review here.

“Annabelle presses on, her fiery speeches and common-sensical ideas going over well with the voters. Frustrated and fearful for his family, Harper never gives up pursuing a killer as lucky as he is clever.

An excellent character-driven procedural. Nickson (On Copper Street, 2018, etc.) uses the historical battle for women’s rights to expose the prejudice and misogyny that still persist today.”

fRoots is a roots music magazine – but folk music is a vital component of The Tin God. Still, editor Ian Anderson found the book to be a “can’t-put-downer”