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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the Mystery Press, 17 July 2020. ISBN: 978-0-7509-9309-8 (HB)
Imagine a time when DNA profiling, forensics labs and the Police
National Computer didn’t exist. More: when there was no police force at all.
There was still crime, of course, human nature being what it is; and somehow it
had to be detected, and criminals brought to justice.
Chris Nickson brings this
scenario to vivid and graphic life in his John the Carpenter series, set in 14th
century Derbyshire, when Chesterfield’s famous Crooked Spire church had not
long been built and people flooded into the town from miles around for the
market. In this, the fourth of the series, it’s been six years since John was
last called on by the local coroner to investigate a murder. He had hoped his
detecting days were behind him, but when he is offered a small fortune to look
into the death of a much-loved anchoress, he reluctantly allows himself to be
pulled back into that dangerous world.
The anchoress, a nun who
chose to live in total seclusion, was the favourite daughter of a lord, and a
mere carpenter is not in a position to deny him his demand. Once again John
sets out to find witnesses, ask questions and piece together the few clues he
unearths. This time he has the help of Jeffrey of Hardwick, a spirited young
man whose position in society allows him access to people John dare not
The ordinary reader has no
way to knowing whether Nickson’s clearly detailed research presents an accurate
picture of the time, but it certainly feels right. Dusty, rutted roads;
a bustling, colourful marketplace preparing for the annual fair; the well-to-do
in their silks and fine wool, and the lower classes in much-darned homespun: it
all contributes to a background with the ring of realism. This, and a cast of
characters who warm or chill the heart, are the novel’s greatest strengths.
John’s family lies at the heart of his life, and his feisty wife Katherine,
sickly son Richard and lively daughters Juliana and Martha jump right off the
Not that the plot is lacking.
John is observant, and adept at forming theories from what he sees; he moves
from clue to clue, discovering and discarding, until only one conclusion
remains – and it’s the one which will be least popular with his employer.
The Anchoress of
Chesterfield is an excellent addition
to an already outstanding series. Chris Nickson has a growing reputation as the
author of meticulously researched, highly readable historical mysteries; if you
haven’t discovered him yet, you have a treat in store when you do.
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’s, 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. Chris has penned a further six series, and todate has published 31 books. For full details visit his web site. In addition to this Chris is also a music
journalist, reviewing for magazines and online outlets.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half
of them crime fiction.