1361: Orphaned by the Black Death, all John possesses are the tools that belonged to his father, a carpenter, and an uncanny ability to work wood. His travels bring him to Chesterfield, where he finds work erecting the spire of the new church. But no sooner does he begin than the master carpenter is murdered and John himself becomes a suspect. To prove his innocence John must help the coroner in his search for the killer, a quest that brings him up against some powerful enemies in a town where he is still a stranger and friends are few. Chris Nickson brilliantly evokes the feeling of time and place in this story of corruption and murder.
I'm 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.
Why Leeds? It's where I was born and raised, and that puts a place in your bones. You know it the way you can never quite know anywhere else...
In addition to this I'm also a music journalist, reviewing for magazines and online outlets, something I've been doing since the mid 1990s, specializing these days in world and roots music.
Candace Robb, author of the excellent Owen Archer and Margaret Kerry mysteries, said this about my work:
"Chris Nickson's years covering the music scene clearly inform his writing--his Richard Nottingham crime novels are not just stories, they're total immersion experiences in the underbelly of 18th century Leeds. Clever use of period slang and vivid detail bring to life the people, the culture, the gritty reality of early industrial culture, brutal and dehumanizing. Constable Richard Nottingham is a shrewd, appealingly human man with a keen social conscience and deep roots in the city. His family and colleagues are portrayed with a warmth and sly humor worthy of Dickens. Immensely addictive, this series just keeps getting better."