As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Published by Severn House, 28 September 2018. ISBN:
The Hanging Psalm is set in Leeds in 1820, where Simon Westrow works as a
thief taker. It is a hard life, which involves frequent danger, but Simon is
happy with his lot. His parents died when he was a four-year-old child and he
was brought up in the workhouse and, from the age of six, subjected to the
brutality of work in the mills. At that time, it seemed impossible that he
would ever have a house of his own, and a wife and two adored twin sons. Simon
and his wife, Rosie, are determined that their family will be safeguarded, and
their children will never endure what Simon suffered. Also living with the
family is Jane, Simon’s assistant, a young girl who has been emotionally maimed
by the cruelty she experienced earlier in her life. Jane is remarkably good at
her job, especially following people without being noticed and discovering
useful information, and she has an uncanny gift, akin to that of a feral
animal, for knowing when she is being watched or followed. Despite her youth,
Jane is skilled with the knife that she always carries and can kill efficiently
and without a qualm.
As a thief taker, Simon accepts
commissions from wealthy people who have been robbed of valuables. If he
recovers them, he returns them and tells his employer the identity of the
thief, but it is up to the employer whether he prosecutes the person
responsible. It is a new experience when a wealthy factory owner, John Milner,
commissions Simon to recover his daughter, Hannah, who has been kidnapped. Simon
has never tried to retrieve a person before but, officially, Hannah is
property, belonging to her father.
As Simon, Rosie and Jane pursue their
most difficult case, they discover that it has more hazards than usual, and it
is not just Hannah’s life that is in danger. A vicious enemy from Simon and
Rosie’s past threatens to destroy them and the happy life they have worked so
hard to achieve.
In his historical novels, Chris Nickson
excels at bringing the unrelenting struggles of the poor for survival to vivid,
tangible life. The Hanging Psalm is
the first in a new series featuring Simon Westrow and it achieves, apparently
effortlessly, this empathy with the people and the time. Nickson’s historical
detail is skilfully interwoven with the narrative and totally convincing; the
plot is well-paced, and his central characters are engaging. Although writing
about a time when women were the property of men, the author creates strong,
courageous and credible women, who share the decisions and dangers, and men who
have the intelligence and confidence to welcome this. Simon and Rosie are two
such people, and so, in her elusive way, is Jane.
The Hanging Psalm is
the start of another great series and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a book
that I would recommend to anyone who loves historical fiction with likeable
working-class characters and a feeling of deep-rooted authenticity.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Nickson was born and raised in Leeds.
He is the author of the Richard Nottingham books, historical mysteries set in
Leeds in the 1730s and featuring Richard Nottingham, the Constable of the city,
and his deputy, John Sedgwick. The books are about more than murder. They're
about the people of Leeds and the way life was - which mean full of grinding
poverty for all but the wealthy. They're also about families, Nottingham and
his and Sedgwick, and the way relationships grow and change, as well as the politics,
when there was one law for the rich, and another, much more brutal, for
everyone else. In addition to this Chris is also a music journalist, reviewing
for magazines and online outlets
Carol Westronis a successful short story writer and a Creative
Writing teacher.She is the moderator
for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.Her crime novels are set both in contemporary
and Victorian times.The Terminal
Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July
2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview
click on the link below.