Nickson, Chris - 'At the Dying of the Year'
Leeds, West Yorkshire in the summer of 1733. The Constable of the City of Leeds Richard Nottingham is just returning to work following convalescing for five months after an injury. His deputy John Sedgwick and Rob Lister have worked long hours to cover for his absence. Richard's wife Mary wants him to retire. With their one surviving daughter Emily there is just the three of them, but Rob is courting Emily despite his father's (the local newspaper owner's) continuing disapproval.
There is a new Mayor but one who is not sympathetic to the Constable's needs. There is a mystery to solve surrounding an Army recruiting sergeant's enlisted men going missing, however this is overshadowed by the discovery of three murdered children. Workmen in one of the Bell Pits (these were early coal mines) find their badly broken bodies. They are eventually identified as street urchins. Richard uses his knowledge of having had to grow up on the streets to try and find out what happened. The City dignitaries, including the Mayor, refuse to believe Nottingham's conclusions, so Richard, John and Rob face a major problem bringing the suspects to justice. However Richard suddenly has his world turned upside down and nothing will be the same again.
This is the fifth Richard Nottingham novel and as before is well researched; you definitely get the feeling of what the period must have been like for the common folk - the rich were all powerful and the poor downtrodden. I thought the problems of bringing the murderers to justice were a bit laboured though I know the author was trying to convey the frustrations the Constable and his men faced. The actual resolution was, in contrast, very quick and I didn't feel fully explained. Despite these criticisms I enjoyed the book and would definitely recommend what is a good historical series.
Geoff Jones, England