Gods of Gold
Nickson is known for his Richard Nottingham mysteries set in 1730s Leeds. In this debut for his new series, the city hasn’t changed, but the century has: it’s 1890, and the Industrial Revolution is in full swing. Detective Inspector Tom Harper and his anger-management-candidate sergeant, Billy Reed, must investigate the disappearance of an eight-year-old girl whose father has been murdered. As bodies pile up, the situation is further complicated by the Leeds gas workers’ strike, grinding the city to a halt and ratcheting up the tension and probability of violence.
The Nottingham mysteries are excellent, and I wondered if a change of century and characters would blunt Nickson’s dexterity. I shouldn’t have worried. The characterization is engaging, the historical detail immersive without devolving into scholarship, the mystery pacing competent – in short, a winning and promising debut for a new series. The same element of high-level corruption that’s often a theme in his other mysteries makes an appearance, although in this offering Nickson has eschewed his penchant for killing off main characters in manners angsty enough for the reader to feel she needs a hug. So far, this series has a somewhat brighter tone, and I’m curious to see how it will progress. I look forward to seeing Tom Harper again in his next outing.