Review: To The Dark by Chris Nickson

Today brings another review courtesy of Anne at Random Things Tours, together with Severn House and author Chris Nickson.

About the Book

Winter is about to take a chilling twist…

Thief-taker Simon Westow is drawn into a deadly puzzle when the melting snow reveals a dark secret in this gripping historical mystery, perfect for fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch.

Leeds, 1822. The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill.

A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can.

Buy on Amazon UK Here.


About the Author

Chris Nickson has published 28 novels, all historical crime, most of them set in Leeds, whose people and history are his passion. The Richard Nottingham series began things, taking place in the 1730s, followed by the Tom Harper novels, which begin in 1890 and have now moved to the 20th century. Between them, Lottie Armstrong, Urban Raven and Dan Markham cover Leeds from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The three books featuring thief-taker Simon Westow explore a changing Leeds, growing rapidly in the 1820s as industry – the factories and mills and belching chimneys – comes to dominate the town. The Hocus Girl, the second in the series, received starred reviews from Kirkus, which called it a “tour de force,” and Publishers Weekly, which declared “historical mysteries don’t get much better than this.’

Chris grew up in Leeds, but lived in the US for many years, making his living as a music journalist. He still reviews occasional releases, but his focus these days is fiction.


My Review

This is the first book by this author I have read and therefore the first in this series as well.  It didn’t matter one bit!  The Epigraph right at the start grabbed me and introduced me to Jane, a gutsy young woman whom I would soon find out works with thief-taker Simon Westow in Leeds.  I love that the author has made the women in tis book just as independent and feisty as they would be if it were set in modern times; not something you expect from an historical fiction book set in 1822!

Other than the characters (which are excellently introduced for a third book in a run), the most amazing thing has to be Nickson’s world building.  I have ever been to Leeds before but I really felt I was there throughout the book.

There are a fair few twists and turn, some of which came as a bit of a surprise to me but that could be that I don’t know the characters as well as those that have read the first two books .. BUT .. that did not come as a disappointment or a negative at all!

I have only recently (in the last 18 months or so) realised that I am a fan of historical fiction and so am still learning about the authors that lead this genre and I believe that I have found one in Mr Nickson, so much so that I have put the first 2 books in this series on my wish list for my birthday in a couple of months.

I would recommend to anyone that loves strong female characters, especially if they are a fan of historical fiction too.

My Rating


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