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Fair and Tender Ladies by Chris Nickson
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Fair and Tender Ladies

by Chris Nickson

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1311,107,114 (3.33)None
1734. When a young country lad requests the Constable's help in finding his sister who has run away to Leeds to seek her fortune, Nottingham is not optimistic. Such girls usually end up as prostitutes - or worse. The following day, the young man is found dead, his throat slit. The evening before his death, the victim had been seen in deep conversation with career criminal Tom Finer in the Bell Inn. Could there be a connection to his murder? Why has Finer returned to Leeds after a seventeen-year absence? And what really happened to the young man's sister? Then a second body is discovered floating in the River Aire - and Nottingham finds himself plunged into a murder investigation where nothing is as it seems.… (more)

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"Fair and tender ladies" is the 5th in Chris Nickson's series of Richard Nottingham novels, set in Leeds of the 1730s. It is helpful to have read at least some of the earlier novels, although the author does fill us in with salient points from his characters' backstories that have been elaborated on in previous adventures. The Nottingham novels are just as much about the characters, their relationships (interpersonal and familial) and the growing town of Leeds itself and sometimes the investigation into the crimes leaves the reader clutching frustratingly at straws (as Nottingham and his deputy, John Sedgewick frequently are themselves).
In this novel, Nottingham is still grieving for the sudden death of his wife, and is distracted from investigations into what may or may not be a double murder by the acts of vandalism and intimidation against the charity school that his daughter, Emily, has recently opened and by the reappearance after twenty years, of Tom Finer, once one of the kingpins of Leeds' criminal underworld, who insists he is now a reformed character.
As usual, Nickson vividly captures the grinding poverty of Leeds' underclass in stark contrast to the wealth that is being built on the wool trade, and where crime-fighting is down to questioning and intuition and the odd stroke of luck, and pistols and cudgels are the means of law enforcement.
Once again, and infuriatingly, for me, Nickson kills off one of the series best characters in an act of random violence and there is a slight feeling of repetition in some of the characterisations and scenes. ( )
  DauntlessGirl | Jan 26, 2014 |
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