Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Broken Token

The Broken TokenIt has been an incredibly hectic week. Mia had her birthday party today (she turns eight on Monday), and Jesse came home after two weeks away yesterday. I wanted the house to be perfect for both him and the party, so between working on that, work, shopping, and taking care of other tasks, I've been running steady for four days.    It was kind of funny. The last of the kids were gone by 4:10. Jesse took Doogie and Brian to Shawano to pick up a few things, and Mia was quietly playing with her new gifts. And it suddenly hit me: a bad cold. It must be because I finally had more than five minutes to sit down and rest, but now I'm running a low fever with a terrible head cold. I'm so glad that it waited until AFTER everyone was gone, lol, but I could have done without it at all. Hopefully I'll be better by Monday because life is about to get very crazy busy again. I don't have time to be sick!

The Broken Token by Chris Nickson is the first book in a new historical mystery series starring Richard Nottingham, the sheriff of Leeds, England in 1731. Nottingham is awakened early one morning by the discovery of a pair of murder victims who have been posed rather shockingly. One is an itinerant pastor who had been stirring up controversy with his preaching. The other just happens to be Nottingham's former serving girl, Pamela, who had turned to prostitution after the death of her husband. Pamela had been like a member of the family, and Nottingham had given her necklace, half a token on a blue ribbon, that is missing from her body. Just when he thinks that he has figured the murderer's identity out, another pair of bodies shows up, and the new mayor starts pressing Nottingham for immediate results, especially with a cutpurse in town who is quite successful, but Nottingham has troubles at home as well when his younger daughter decides to seek her independence at the most terrible of times. Nickson has written a thoroughly compelling and engrossing historical mystery that depicts a hardscrabble existence in a gritty town. Nottingham is not a romantic hero, he isn't addicted to opiates or in love with a married woman, nor does he have a tragic past in the military like other English historicals, but he is a solid family man, devoted to his wife and children, trying to make the best life for him that he can while negotiating the tricky waters of politics and keeping his city safe. Nickson brings him to fully-fleshed life. Some secondary characters like his deputy John Sedgwick, villain Amos, and the young boy he hires promise to keep future books in the series interesting. I think this historical has somehow missed the radar of readers, but hopefully readers will discover it soon and decide, like I did, that they can't wait to visit Nottingham and Leeds again soon.