The Broken Token by Rich Nickson
I’ve just finished The Broken Token by Rich Nickson. Nickson has written two novels set in Leeds, England in 1730. Leeds was then much smaller than it is today. Central Leeds now has a population of almost half a million people and Greater Leeds nearly a million. A far cry from 1730. Richard Nottingham is Constable of Leeds. Someone is committing murders in pairs, man and woman, or more correctly, man and prostitute. What begins as two murders soon becomes six. The woman in the first murders was once a servant girl in the Constable’s house. The new mayor is threatening Nottingham with firing if he does not get results soon. The constabulary force is small; Nottingham has an assistant, John Sedgwick, and no more than six officers. They are also expected to catch a cunning cutpurse.
Nickson writes well of the town with its wealthy cloth merchants, its tavern keepers, its poor people and its many prostitutes. Nottingham is having trouble with a younger daughter and Sedgwick with his wife, who ultimately leaves for another man, taking his three-year-old son. In the end Nottingham finds some unlikely assistance in catching the murderer. His childhood had been spent as an urchin on the street and what he learns about his own heritage is revealing. The Broken Token is an interesting beginning to a series which I hope will be a long one. Chris Nickson was born in Leeds but has spent part of his life in Seattle.