The Hocus Girl by Chris Nickson @ChrisNickson2 @SevernHouse #bookreview

Happy Sunday! Today it’s another hit on #OperationNetgalley but this is a special book. It’s a book set in the fair city of Leeds!

My thanks to the author Chris Nickson and Severn House for my e-copy of The Hocus Girl which I received through Netgalley.

The Blurb

Thief-taker Simon Westow must save one of his closest friends from a grim fate at the hands of the government in this compelling historical mystery.

Leeds, May 1822. Thief-taker Simon Westow owes Davey and Emily Ashton everything – the siblings gave him sanctuary when he needed it most. So when Davey is arrested for sedition and Emily begs Simon for help, he starts asking questions, determined to clear his friend. Are the answers linked to rumours of a mysterious government spy in town?

Davey’s not the only one who needs Simon’s help. Timber merchant George Ericsson has been ‘hocussed’ by a young woman who spiked his drink and stole his valuable ring and watch. Who is she, and how does she know one of Simon’s assistant Jane’s deepest secrets? The path to the truth is twisted and dangerous. Simon and Jane encounter murder, lies, betrayal and a government terrified of its own people as they attempt to save Davey and find the hocus girl.

What Did I Think?

Sedition: conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch (Oxford Dictionary)

I hadn’t heard of the phrase sedition before reading The Hocus Girl; I think it’s a long forgotten crime that many would now be potentially guilty of! But this crime is at the centre of this historical crime novel.

This is a very intricate case for Simon. It felt a real scenario from the 1800s. Proving someone is inciting rebellion can’t be an easy thing but the longer Davey is held at the magistrate’s pleasure, the more indignant Simon is to get to the bottom of the mess. But then murder comes into the frame upping the ante for this Leeds thief-taker.

I had in my head an olde worlde Leeds. The place I’m very familiar with but in a time gone past. Leeds but not as I know it. As Westow and Jane proceeded through the case, the locations they went to were places I’d been myself. The mention of a woman selling heather made me smile having encountered her modern day equivalent on a number of occasions of a lunchtime.

I really liked getting to know Simon, Jane and Rosie. Simon’s fatherly approach to Jane is admirable and her ability to disappear into a crowd is invaluable in their investigations.

I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction to Nickson’s writing and will be investigating his other series both Leeds based and Chesvegas.

Who Is Chris Nickson?

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.