Review: Come the Fear by Chris Nickson

Come the Fear book cover

An atmospheric and chilling historical mystery

“March, 1733. Richard Nottingham, Constable of the City of Leeds, joins others trying desperately to put out a fire in an empty house before it destroys the entire street. The next morning, searching the blackened ruins, he finds the charred corpse of a girl, and something placed on her chest. Had the fire been started to conceal her murder?

Starting with just a single clue, Nottingham his deputy John Sedgwick and Rob Lister slowly piece together the girl’s past, a journey that takes them into the camps of the homeless, the homes of rich merchants, down to the poor and those beyond hope, deep into the dark secrets and lies that families keep hidden.”

I have to admit that I’ve not read much historical crime fiction, so this book was a bit of a first for me.

It’s the fourth book in Chris Nickson’s Richard Nottingham series. And, although it’s part of a series, I found it easy to get into the story having not read the books that precede it.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the way in which the multiple plot-lines crossed and then joined together. The gruesome discovery of the murdered girl in the burnt-out house is the main story, but through the eyes of the main characters the reader also discovers what it was like to police the city of Leeds during the period. Nottingham, Sedgewick and Lister encounter troubles with prostitution, theft (and thief-takers) and violent crime, and it’s through how they deal with these challenges, and the issues that they face in their personal lives, that the reader gets an insight into what it must have been like to live in those times, to have a relationship with someone outside the social class society deemed appropriate for you, to raise a family, and to cope with the joys and the tragedies that living in that period made commonplace.

Nickson paints a rich picture, conjuring the sights, smells and sounds of the period through his vivid narrative. That said, the novel moves with a quick pace and, as the reader uncovers the clues and events with the main characters, you’re soon swept up in the story and in trying to work out who did it and why.

Come the Fear gives a fascinating glimpse into life and crime in the 1730s, as well as providing an engaging mystery for the reader to unravel alongside Constable Richard Nottingham and his team.

Highly recommended.

Come the Fear is published by the Crème de la Crime imprint of Severn House on 30th August 2012 (UK) and in November 2012 (USA).


Looking for a little Paper Passion?

I stumbled across this via a link on the awesome Novelicious [] website.

Paper Passion is a new  fragrance by Geza Schoen, Gerhard Steidl, and Wallpaper* magazine. The rather awesome packaging is by Karl Lagerfeld and Steidl.

Karl Lagerfeld is quoted as saying “The smell of a freshly printed book is the best smell in the world.”

Well, I’m not sure about smelling like a freshly printed book myself, but I’m loving this for the packaging alone.

You can find out more about Paper Passion at

Review: Kind of Cruel by Sophie Hannah

A superbly chilling and complex psychological thriller

“Amber Hewerdine knows more than she is telling. She knows that she hasn’t slept since the arson attack which killed her best friend. She knows that it is not normal for four members of your family to disappear one Christmas morning, and then reappear the next day, refusing to explain or ever speak of it again. And she knows that somewhere, buried deep in her subconscious, is the key to what happened all those years ago at Little Orchard.

Kind, cruel, kind of cruel.  These are the words she keeps coming back to. But what do they mean? Any why is she arrested within hours of first saying them, for the murder of a woman she has never met?”

An insomniac, Amber is struggling against her own body, and consults a Hypnotherapist to she if they can help. Instead of the relief she needs, the session unlocks memories that Amber has unknowingly pushed from her consciousness. These confusing and still unplaced memories start Amber on a quest to discover where they come from and why the Police believe she holds the key to an unsolved murder case.

As Amber tries to piece together a series of seemingly unconnected events, and consults the Hypnotherapist for further sessions, things become murkier rather than clearer, and the demons in her past threaten to overwhelm her.

For me, Amber wasn’t a character I instantly liked, but the situation she found herself in, and how she reacted, made her highly intriguing.

As the story progressed, and I found out more about Amber: how she’d taken in her best friends young children after her death, how she always felt in the shadow of her perfect sister-in-law, and how she decided to help DC Simon Waterhouse solve the case, she became someone I really wanted to root for.

I’m a big fan of Sophie Hannah’s brand of complex psychological thrillers, and this story didn’t disappoint. It has a wealth of interwoven connections challenging the reader to solve them.

Kind of Cruel is a chilling and unsettling tale of how unseen pressures and secrets within a family can distort and twist the everyday into the chilling. A shocking glimpse behind the mask of a seemingly ‘perfect’ family, and as much of a ‘why done it’ as a ‘who done it’.

Highly Recommended.