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The Molten City by Chris Nickson

All eyes are on the Leeds police as the city is soon to receive a visit from the Prime Minister. The year is 1908, however, and the unemployed are planning to disrupt the visit along with the Suffragettes who see this as an ideal opportunity to get their grievances heard. With his men already stretched, an anonymous note sent to Detective Superintendent Tom Harper has piqued his interest. Telling of an abducted child fourteen years earlier and naming the family with whom he now lives, Harper is concerned that the original investigation seemed to be a bit lacklustre with a paper thin file detailing the steps taken. When missing children are a top priority, why was the disappearance of Andrew Sharp never taken seriously and why is there still an attempt to keep the story hidden?

Tom Harper is back, and this time things are looking very different in his personal life. At the start of the book, we see him having to come to terms with the loss of a close friend, someone who we have got to know throughout the series. This death, although not suspicious, sets the tone for the rest of the book, with numerous murders occurring to try to protect an old secret.

One of the things I have always liked about this series is the prominence placed upon Tom’s wife, Annabelle. Very much a woman ahead of her time, we now see this replicated in their daughter, Mary. Now sixteen years of age, she is very much involved in the suffragette movement, although unlike her mother, she is prepared to go against her father’s wishes to achieve her aim. I had great sympathy for Tom who, despite showing support for his daughter, knows he has a job to do, finding it difficult to prevent his daughter from getting involved in potentially dangerous demonstrations.

The Molten City has a lot happening between its pages, but the story flows easily, each plot being as enjoyable as the other. Chris Nickson, again, adds an air of authenticity by including real historical events as part of the plot, and it is easy to imagine yourself in the Leeds of 1908.

My only concern with this series is that, as time is moving on, Tom Harper is getting older. I hope that we do not see him retiring any time soon, as this is a series that I am thoroughly enjoying! If you haven’t read any of this series before, I can highly recommend it. Take a look at my reviews of some of the other books in the series:

Two Bronze Pennies

Skin Like Silver

On Copper Street

The Tin God

Leaden Heart

With thanks to Net Galley and Severn House Publishers for my copy.

 

 

 

 

The Leaden Heart by Chris Nickson

51UbsxvrAiL._SY346_It’s July 1899 and the crime rate in Leeds has been unusually low. This all changes when Superintendent Tom Harper receives word of a particularly daring burglary at one of the city’s more expensive residences. Meanwhile, his ex-colleague, Billy Reed, is seeking some assistance after the suicide of his brother who was facing an extortionate rent increase. Investigation uncovers a web of corruption involving some of the area’s influential residents. Who are the ringleaders and will Harper be able to apprehend them before the death toll rises?

I’ve always enjoyed reading historical crime fiction, particularly those books set during the Victorian era. In the Tom Harper series, we are now reaching the end of the nineteenth century, a time which has seen great changes for the Leeds detectives. As in all of his books, Chris Nickson has created a very vivid picture of the time, creating characters that feel real and who you can certainly feel empathy for. Again, we see Tom’s wife, Annabelle, taking a central role in the plot, her new position as poor law guardian giving her a platform to help those unable to help themselves. Annabelle has always been my favourite character, her ongoing fight for women’s equality being a great theme running throughout the books. With her daughter, Mary, seemingly being a chip off the old block, I think we are in for some entertaining times ahead!

It was pleasing to see Tom and his old friend Billy attempting to build bridges as they investigated the reason behind the suicide of Billy’s brother. Although this was set over a hundred years ago, the story is all too familiar to many people nowadays with those in power preying upon the poor and less fortunate. It was easy to imagine Harper’s frustration as he faced brick walls when trying to uncover the identities of those involved, especially seeing as he was desperate to close the case for the sake of Billy. The crooks doing the dirty work, the Smith brothers, are a particularly nasty pair, leaving a trail of death and destruction wherever they go. I spent the whole book willing for their capture!

If you are new to the Tom Harper books, please don’t be put off by the fact that this is the seventh book in the series as it can definitely be read as a standalone. This is, without a shadow of a doubt, my favourite so far, and I eagerly anticipate what the next installment brings for Tom, Annabelle and the rest of the characters we have grown to love.

With thanks to Severn House Publishers and Net Galley for my copy.

 

The Tin God by Chris Nickson

51SXPfKJzFL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_It’s 1897 and the people of Leeds are about to go to the polls to vote for a new Poor Law Guardian. For the first time, women have decided to stand for election, leading to unrest amongst those who feel that a woman’s place should be in the home. When the women begin to be attacked, Superintendent Tom Harper has a particular reason for wanting this man off the streets – one of the candidates is his own wife, Annabelle. As the threats become worse, and deadly explosions begin to rip through the venues where the women are speaking, the detectives know they must find the culprit before more lives are lost.

The Tin God is the sixth in the Tom Harper series and is a very timely one with it being the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in the UK. One of the things I have always enjoyed about this series is the prominence the author gives to the female characters, so often overlooked in books set in this era. We have seen Annabelle Harper’s strength in previous books but, here, she really comes into her own when her own life is threatened. Chris Nickson really brings home how turbulent these times must have been with these forward-thinking women being met with resistance from those firmly stuck in the past.

It is always fascinating to read how the police force of that time solved cases without any of the modern techniques used today, relying instead on pounding the streets, looking for clues. Despite the slow search for a breakthrough, the plot moves on at a fast pace with bombs, murders, attempted abductions, attacks… late Victorian Leeds is not the safest place to live! There is also a sub-plot involving Billy Reed, an inspector now living and working in Whitby, who is investigating a smuggling ring. I do hope, at some point, we see Tom and Billy working together again back in Leeds.

The Tin God is a great read and I highly recommend this series to anyone with an interest in historical crime fiction. Although this is the sixth book, it could be read as a standalone.

With thanks to Severn House and Net Galley for my copy of The Tin God.

 

 

On Copper Street by Chris Nickson

51zeLbgjVpLThe day after he is released from prison, in March 1895, Henry White is found stabbed to death at his home in Copper Street, Leeds. Local people are reluctant to speak to the police so DI Tom Harper knows that he will have a hard time trying to solve the case. Meanwhile, in a seemingly unprovoked incident, a young boy and girl find themselves victims of a serious acid attack. As the death toll rises, Harper knows that unless he gets a big break, the culprits will remain at large for ever.

On Copper Street is the fifth of Chris Nickson’s books to feature the main protagonist, Tom Harper, and is arguably his most complex to date, dealing with issues that wouldn’t look out of place in a contemporary crime novel. His descriptions of late-Victorian Leeds, however, place this book firmly in the past and it is this imagery that I love the most about this author’s books. Chris Nickson always succeeds in putting a clear picture in my mind of where the story is set, whether it be the police station, the public house of the crime scene. It is clear how much the author knows about the places he talks about in his books.

The mystery is a fascinating one and gives us a chance to see how most of Victorian police work came down to the legwork of the detectives. It was also interesting to see a new role being undertaken by Harper and poses a conundrum for future books – will he be content with being based, mainly, in the office, or will he find himself longing to be back out on the streets?

I have always loved the prominence the author gives to women in this series of books, and Harper’s wife, Annabelle, continues to be a strong character, largely due to her work with the Suffragettes. In an era where a lot of men controlled their wives’ lives, it is refreshing to see a fictional Victorian marriage where the couple appear to be equals.

Another excellent addition to the series.

With thanks to NetGalley and Severn House Publishers for the ARC.

Skin Like Silver by Chris Nickson

I received this book from Net Galley in return for an honest review.51ggV-gJHTL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Ever since reading ‘Two Bronze Pennies’, the second in Chris Nickson’s Inspector Tom Harper series, I had been eagerly anticipating his next offering. I was not disappointed.

Set in Leeds in 1891, Harper is tasked to find the identity of a decomposing body of a baby found in a parcel at the post office. This is soon pushed to the back of his mind, however, with the news that there is a huge fire at the local railway station. Soon, the body of a woman, Suffragist Catherine Carr, is found in the debris. The knife wound, however, shows that she did not die in the fire and a murder enquiry is launched.

Catherine’s murder sets off a chain of events and soon the death count in Leeds is rising. With Harper worried for his wife’s safety due to her connections to the Leeds Suffragist Society, will he find the cuplrit before there is more bloodshed?

Again, Chris Nickson does a fantastic job in mixing fact with fiction, creating a vivid image of what life was like in Leeds during the nineteenth century. It was easy to imagine the stark contrast between the privileged Carr family and the unfortunates dwelling in the crowded back streets.

The ending sets up the next installment nicely; definitely worthy of a five-star rating!

Two Bronze Pennies: A Police Procedural Set in Late 19th Century England by Chris Nickson

Two Bronze PenniesI received this book from Net Galley in return for an honest review.

As a fan of the books of Alex Grecian and as someone with an interest in Victorian crime, this book grabbed my attention from the outset. The characters are well-written and likeable and the author manages to give a real insight into issues affecting Victorian Leeds. I particularly enjoyed the character of Annabelle as, in many Victorian novels, wives are hidden away in the background – it was good to see a woman of independent means who also manages to support her husband’s career.

Based on this book, I would definitely read more books in the series. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

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