on 11 February 2012
The Constant Lovers by Chris Nickson is the third book in the series featuring Richard Nottingham, the Constable of Leeds in the 1730s. They are rapidly becoming one of my favourite chill-out reads.
Richard Nottingham knows what it's like to have nothing, to have to steal to survive, he is not blind to what drives human beings to commit the crimes that they do. Yet even though this streak of empathy runs through him, Nottingham is not afraid of being ruthless with those who interfere with his Constabulary.
In this, the third in the series, Richard and his wife have come to terms with the loss of their daughter, Rose, and Emily is leaving home to be a governess. There's not much crime to be investigated initially, just a maid whose gone missing with some money and fine handkerchiefs, a young man has gone missing too under similar circumstances. Giving Richard and his wife time to adjust to their empty nest and reconnect as a couple.
Then the body of a well-dressed young girl with a knife in her back is found out near Kirkstall Abbey. There's nothing to identify her and no one comes to say she's missing. Just as the stench of her rotting body is becoming to much to cope with in the jail a wealthy farmer turns up saying that his wife, Sarah Goodlove, is missing.
It's quickly confirmed that the body is hers. The last time that Sarah had been seen she had out a visit to see her parents Lord and Lady Gibton for few days. Sarah was accompanied by her maid but neither of them had ever arrived according to her parents. As Nottingham investigates the mystery surrounding Sarah's murder he discovers that Sarah's hand in marriage was sold to the highest bidder by her parents. The Gibton's lack of reaction to the news of their daughter's death horrifies Nottingham, until something occurs that makes him see Lord Gibton in an entirely different light.
Then the suicide of a successful young businessman is reported.
Who killed Sarah? Where is her maid? Why did the young businessman kill himself? How can the Gibton's appear not to care that their daughter is dead?
All the old favourite characters are here from the last book to provide the sub-plots. King of the lowlife Amos Worthy is enraged and on a mission as new man Hughes tries to muscle in on his territory. The Constable's right-hand man, John Sedgewick, experiences the joy of being loved as his home life continues to improve, even though he is struggling with self-doubt at work due to a new addition to their team. Meanwhile, Emily finds her first foray into the working world to be an eye-opening experience. Throughout it all Nottingham has to negotiate a fine line of diplomacy in order to solve each clue that leads to the murderer of Sarah Goodlove.
One of the things I like the most about Chris Nickson's Richard Nottingham series is that while you're busy following the clues to find the murderer with Nottingham, the author is going to deliver an emotional punch from an entirely different direction. The plots in this series are well executed but not complex, but that does not spoil my enjoyment of them. Its readability is driven by character development, every core character is allowed to grow and Chris isn't afraid of challenging your expectations. You'll care about these people, which is why this series is such an addictive read.
on 26 January 2012
The Constant Lovers is the third in a series of historical crime fiction novels set in 1730s, written by Chris Nickson and featuring Constable Richard Nottingham.
The criminals in Leeds seem to be taking things easy during the very hot and stifling summer of 1732, and the hearty Constable Richard Nottingham is enjoying a moment's peace. That is, until a young woman's body is found, just outside of his Leeds' patch. The victim has been stabbed to death, and responsibility for the investigation falls onto Nottingham and his small team. But nobody comes to claim the body or has reported the woman missing, until after she has been buried.
The mystery moves on as Nottingham and his loyal sidekick, Sedgwick, discover the young woman to be the newly wed wife of the much-older Samual Godlove, and daughter of fallen Baron, Lord Gibton. The maid who has been with her since childhood has also disappeared. The story takes us on a gentle stroll through the investigation as the Constable tries to uncover the truth surrounding the murder of Sarah Godlove and the disappearance of her maid, and the mysterious message found in Sarah's hidden pocket.
The Constant Lovers is written in much the same style as the first book in the series, The Broken Token. I didn't find The Constant Lovers as atmospheric as the first book (possibly because it was set in a small village outside of the then vibrant but poverty-stricken town of Leeds) or as gripping as the faster-paced second book Cold Cruel Winter.
That said, The Constant Lovers is still a very good read with great characterisation and a steady pace, which takes you back into another century and a completely different and very interesting world of crime and detection.
on 5 April 2012
The Constant Lovers is my favourite of the Richard Nottingham (the Constable of Leeds in the 1730s) series so far. A new character is added, and a much needed one in my opinion, as he adds depth to the story and has me even more keen to read the 4th in the series. I am not sure what else I can say without giving away key bits of the series but some wrongs done by existing characters are undone, some lives improve immeasurably and, as can be expected with all crime novels, some lives are lost. I highly recommend this to all historical and crime novel fans.
on 16 January 2013
I'm not much of a reader of fiction, wish I was. However, Nickson's books have really reeled me in. I was originally drawn to them by the subject matter but it's character portrayals that keep me coming back for more. Highly recommended.