The brutal deaths of two young boys and a young man connected to a mill in Leeds propel thief-taker Simon Westow into a disturbing, twisty mystery that recalls his own traumatic past.
"Nickson does a superb job using the grim living and working conditions for the city’s poor as a backdrop for a memorable and affecting plot. James Ellroy fans will be enthralled" - Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Leeds. November, 1823. When a doctor from the infirmary tells thief-taker Simon Westow about the brutal deaths of two young boys at the hands of a mill overseer, Simon's painful memories of his childhood reawaken. Unable to sleep, he goes for a walk - and stumbles upon the body of a young man being pulled from the river.
Simon and his assistant, Jane, are drawn into investigating the deaths, seeking a measure of justice for the powerless dead. But the pursuit of the truth takes them down a dangerous and deadly path. Can they overcome a powerful enemy who knows he stands above the law in Leeds - and the shadowy figure that stands behind him?
Set in Leeds, England, in 1823, Nickson's stellar fourth mystery featuring thief-taker Simon Westlow (after 2020's To the Dark) finds Simon, who's recuperating from a devastating illness, not in the best shape to embark on a crusade. But he does so after 10-year-old Peter Hardy and eight-year-old Jacob Easby are killed by the brutal overseer at the mill where they worked, a tragedy that revives Simon's memories of his own oppressive experiences in a workhouse. When Simon's testimony to an investigating commission about the torture he endured as a child laborer doesn't yield results, he resolves to bring those responsible for the boys' deaths to justice, despite the risk of taking on the powerful status quo. Meanwhile, during a walk, Simon comes across the body of a clerk found in the river with his throat slit and right hand severed. The tension rises as the subsequent inquiry pits Simon against a dangerous adversary. Nickson does a superb job using the grim living and working conditions for the city's poor as a backdrop for a memorable and affecting plot. James Ellroy fans will be enthralled. Agent: Tina Betts, Andrew Mann (U.K.).