Leeds – 1732.
Richard Nottingham remains the Chief Constable of Leeds – one of the few constants with regards to the city guardians. He and his right hand man and deputy – John Sedgwick – remain dedicated to keeping the city a peaceful and prosperous place.
Nottingham is as familiar with the resident cut-purses, pick-pockets and prostitutes as he is with the market traders, weavers and nobility…though possibly more comfortable with the former than the latter!
Leeds is his home, his workplace and his haven.
He and his wife – the lovely Mary – have finally come to terms with the loss of their eldest, Rose. As their remaining daughter Emily has moved out of the familial home to work as a governess; they are re-discovering their easy rapport and affection for one another.
Within the city limits; Nottingham has been set the task of tracking a pair of thieves – who take servant positions in well to do houses before absconding with the silver! However, it’s entirely possible that they have ripped off the wrong man – and now he must work to find them to ensure their survival.
Additionally; he is forced to leave the confines of his beloved city and solve a heinous crime in the far reaches of the county. The body of a young woman has been found in the grounds of the ruined Kirkstall Abbey. Brutally stabbed; she carries, hidden within her clothes an enigmatic love note –
“Soon we’ll be together and
our hearts can sing loud,
Despite her evident wealth, no one comes forward to claim the body. A body that – due to the heat – must be buried post haste. The Constable finds to his frustration that the more evidence that he tracks down; the more questions that he raises.
Before he can begin to solve her murder, he must identify the remains and the mysterious W. On route to do this, he must deal with devious parents; a heartbroken husband; missing maid and Amos Worthy – his greatest foe and possibly the closest link to his past.
All in a days work…
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Another excellent addition to this compelling and engaging series. Once again, Chris manages to re-create the world of 18th century Leeds around the reader – capturing all the senses with his evocative prose. That’s not to suggest that the language or set ups ever become flowery or grandious. As a Yorkshire lad, he is able to transport us using grounded prose and a pithy pace.
One of my favourite features is the map of the period that he always provides at the start of the book. Using this; I was able to mentally track the course of the mystery. As I have lived near Kirkstall and Horsforth here in Leeds; it was wonderful to ty and picture the landscape as it was back then. As is always the case in these books; the environment plays an active role and it was exciting and fresh to discover new terrain.
John Sedgwick remains one of the most delightful characters of the series and its wonderful watching his progress. Although my absolute favourite only appears in a handful of scenes; Amos dominates the page.
As I’ve noted in pevious reviews; another of Chris’ strengths as an author is his refusal to remain static. The characters develop and grow. They behave in unexpected ways and – while change can often be painful and sad for the reader – the ending of this book is both poignant and offers great potential for future books.
Which I have no doubt there will be.
And once again, I look forward to reading them!
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The Constant Lovers is to be officially launched at Leeds Central Library – see details here!