cover image To the Dark

To the Dark

Chris Nickson. Severn, $28.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7278-9245-4

The murder of career criminal Laurence Poole propels Nickson’s superior third Simon Westow mystery (after 2020’s The Hocus Girl), set in 1823 Leeds, England. A few weeks earlier, Sir Matthew Fullbrook hired Westow to retrieve his family’s stolen silver, and the investigator found the missing items in Poole’s possession. Fullbrook decided not to press charges, and Westow thought the matter closed until Poole’s strangled corpse turned up. Westow, worried that Constable Williams, the city’s top lawman, will learn of his history with the dead man, decides to investigate the crime, along with his assistant, Jane, who helped him apprehend Poole. When two of Leeds’s more prominent citizens, a doctor and an alderman, take an interest in the case, they ask Williams to formally retain Westow to solve the killing. Their unusual level of interest in justice for Poole makes Westow wonder whether more’s going on than meets the eye, a thought validated as his inquiries continue. The whodunit is enhanced by a grim portrait of life on the streets, embodied in a homeless child whom Jane befriends. Nickson again demonstrates mastery of the historical mystery. Agent: Tina Betts, Andrew Mann (U.K.). (Mar.)