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.
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).
- Chris Nickson talks about writing crime fiction (madameguillotine.org.uk)