Fair and Tender Ladies (Richard Nottingham Mysteries)
1734. The hits just keep coming for Richard Nottingham, Constable of Leeds. Still mourning the death of his beloved wife (murdered in the last book), he finds solace in his daughter, Emily, and his work. Aided by Emily’s beau, Rob Lister, and laconic deputy John Sedgwick, Nottingham investigates when a young farmer, newly arrived to search for his lost sister, is found with his throat cut. Nottingham is quickly distracted, however, when Emily is threatened and her charity school is repeatedly vandalized.
Nickson proves adept at characterization – so much so that when, yet again, a main character is unexpectedly dispensed with, the reader feels the rug yanked out from under her, and is just as lost as the surviving characters. Nickson has a gift for illustrating the voids left when those we love are taken from us, a negative space which cannot be filled. Thus, his mysteries are, for lack of a better word, sorrowful, and character development shares equal page space with plotting. Dialogue has enough period/local slang to immerse without distracting, and Nickson is skillful in illustrating the varied social strata of 1730s Leeds. The procedural aspects are also well-done, with the result being an engrossing mystery – but one that may well leave readers in tears along the way.