Thief-taker Simon Westow is used to finding stolen goods, not stolen bodies . . . Can he hunt down those committing crimes against the dead in Leeds?
Leeds. April, 1824. Wealthy engineer Joseph Clark employs thief-taker Simon Westow to find the men who stole the buried corpse of Catherine Jordan, his employee’s daughter.
Simon is stunned and horrified to realize there’s a gang of body snatchers in Leeds. He needs to discover who bought Catherine’s body and where it is now. As he hunts for answers, he learns that a number of corpses have vanished from graveyards in the town. Can Simon and his assistant Jane bring the brutal, violent Resurrection men who are selling the dead to medical schools to justice and give some peace to the bereft families?
Disclaimer: Although I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, the opinions below are my own.
Body snatching isn’t something only to be found in horror movies. During the early years of medical school this was how some surgeons received cadavers on which to practice their skills. In Edinburgh, Scotland (where I went to college), the names of Burke and Hare would become synonymous with the act just four years after when this book is set. Except they often hastened the availability of a body if you know what I mean. The Dead Will Rise was inspired by actual events in Leeds. No one is murdered for their bodies, but it doesn’t bode well for anyone who gets in the way of the body snatchers.
This is the fifth title in the Simon Westow Mystery series, and with each installment we get deeper into the complex lives of the main characters. Simon is a husband and father, fiercely protective of his two sons and wanting them to have the advantages of life he never had at their age. At the same time, however, his job skirts around legality. Thief-takers aren’t always trusted, Westow’s contacts aren’t always on the level, and he’ll shed blood if he must. His associate, Jane, is like a lion who’s been wounded yet continues to stalk her prey through the streets and alley ways of 19th century Leeds.
Chris Nickson’s Regency era novels have always been different to the Jane Austen-inspired writings set during the same period. He calls his books Regency Noir. What’s interesting this time, is that he has Jane reading Austen. She gets “caught up in the story of the Bennett sisters,” whose lives are “utterly different to her’s.” These scenes when she’s reading are moments of levity in an otherwise dark tale.
Despite the darkness, however, it’s a compelling story with many tense and breathtaking moments which made it difficult to put down. It’s my opinion that Chris Nickson has created another winner, and I’m already looking forward to book six.
Publisher: Severn House
Publication Date: 07 March 2023
Chris Nickson is the author of six Tom Harper mysteries and seven highly acclaimed novels in the Richard Nottingham series. He is also a well-known music journalist. He lives in his beloved Leeds.
Chris Nickson’s website: https://chrisnickson.co.uk/
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