Winter is about to take a chilling twist…
Thief-taker Simon Westow is drawn into a deadly puzzle when the melting snow reveals a dark secret in this gripping historical mystery, perfect for fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch.
Leeds, 1822.The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill.
A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can.
A mysterious notebook, a chilly winter setting, a thief taker in a dangerous and perilous situation– these are some of the many reasons that I was so drawn to To The Dark, and why I’m so grateful to Anne Cater from #RandomThings Tours for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.
I love immersing myself in a fabulous historical mystery and I felt like I could totally surrender myself to this reading experience and luxuriate in it over a snowy weekend to escape from all the pressures of homeschooling and travel to a completely different time and place where I really felt like I could imagine Simon Westow’s world and found it very difficult to detach myself from this gripping historical mystery. I loved the idea of a historical ‘thief taker’ and got totally caught up in his story. I have immediately ordered the other two books and urge you to do the very same!
Is anyone else like me and love to go online and immerse themselves in the period of the book that they’re loving, to try and really place themselves in the characters’ world? I love doing it and I found myself scrolling through pages and pages of tales of Victorian crimes, the fashions of the time and the limitations for women living in that periods too – I found it totally fascinating and might have developed a new obsession…
It was lovely to lose myself in a fantastic historical read after the Christmas break, where I’ve been mostly reading contemporary writing and non-fiction. It’s funny that I get drawn to books in waves, and after reading To The Dark, I’m now on a real Historical Fiction mission and have been drawn back to one of my comfort-reads – Anne Perry – set in roughly the same period and dealing with secrets, fractured family dynamics and dark deeds, too.
The realistic characters and their vividly-depicted lives allowed me to travel back in time with them through its pages. I really loved the way that Chris Nickson’s writing draws the reader in and keeps them connected with the crimes and events that Simon becomes embroiled in, as we see the way that people’s choices were far more limited in that era and it is so easy to see why so many families bowed to convention and tried to mask the truth and bury things that would bring disgrace on the family. The supporting characters played just as important a part as Simon & Jane and I loved meeting the female characters and getting an insight in to their lives.
I loved the juxtaposition of the various threads of this story as they interweave and coincide and we try and solve them alongside Simon. This was the perfect wintryread – and if you’re a teacher or parent struggling with the realities at present its the perfect antidote and a total escape. If you love a captivating read, with intelligently written and compelling characters then you’ll really love this book – I was a huge fan growing up of Victorian murder mysteries and this will give you a renewed insight into this part of history and in Simon and Jane you’ll discover an engaging duo whose differences are their strength.
It’s a really great read and I heartily recommend it for keeping you entertained as well as informed about this fascinating period of history. Its evocative setting and strong sense of time and place are a real strength and Nickson really deserves to better known in his depiction of a fascinating time in history and through the skill of his chracterisation and dialogue. Get a copy for yourself here and enjoy trying to solve this marvellously twisty and multi layeted read alongside them. My favourite character is Simon’s indomitable wife Rosie and you’ll see why when you read the books!
Writer On The Shelf
Chris Nickson has published 28 novels, all historical crime, most of them set in Leeds, whose people and history are his passion. The Richard Nottingham series began things, taking place in the 1730s, followed by the Tom Harper novels, which begin in 1890 and have now moved to the 20th century. Between them, Lottie Armstrong, Urban Raven and Dan Markham cover Leeds from the 1920s to the 1950s.
The three books featuring thief-taker Simon Westow explore a changing Leeds, growing rapidly in the 1820s as industry – the factories and mills and belching chimneys – comes to dominate the town. The Hocus Girl, the second in the series, received starred reviews from Kirkus, which called it a “tour de force,” and Publishers Weekly, which declared “historical mysteries don’t get much better than this.’
Chris grew up in Leeds, but lived in the US for many years, making his living as a music journalist. He still reviews occasional releases, but his focus these days is fiction.