At the Dying of the Year (Richard Nottingham Mysteries)

Written by Chris Nickson
Review by Bethany Latham

The year is 1733, and it has not been an easy one for Richard Nottingham, Constable of Leeds. Still recovering from a stab wound, on his first day back on the job he’s confronted with a hostile new mayor and the discovery of the bodies of three brutally murdered children. Nottingham and his trusty sidekicks believe they know the murderer’s identity – but the rich merchants of Leeds band together to protect one of their own.

There are several novels in this series, but this was my first; I think a better experience would result from reading them in order. Unlike many mysteries, this seems to spend a great deal of time on character relationships, especially familial units; it fleshes out the characters, but it also leaves less focus on the mystery plot. The novel is well-written, though there were a few slightly repetitive passages. An important character is dispensed with quite abruptly (and, for fans of the series, I suspect devastatingly) and a great deal of page space is spent on the effect of this on the main characters. The mystery element is resolved early on, and then it’s simply a matter of proof and justice served – and readers may find that justice summarily and disappointingly (though realistically) executed. The vast gulf between rich and poor, and the quality of justice for each, is a theme which will resonate with modern readers.