Modern Crimes was published by The History Press on 7 September 2016 and is available to buy here
The first book in a new gritty noir series set in 1920s. England 1924: still reeling from the effect of World War I, life in the city of Leeds is hard: poverty is rife, work is scarce, and crime is becoming more sophisticated. Bravely entering this maelstrom is one of the city’s first policewomen to walk the beat, the resourceful, inquisitive, and practical WPC Lottie Armstrong. Eager to prove herself and determined to succeed, Lottie faces apathy from colleagues and the general public alike until she suddenly finds herself on the trail of a missing girl that leads to the underbelly of the city and to murder. As Lottie uncovers a plot involving high level corruption, CID reluctantly find they need her knowledge and people skills, but as the truth is slowly laid bare Lottie’s bravery is tested to its limit in a breathtaking climax.
My thoughts from the launch night! Modern Crimes by Chris Nickson – Launch at Leeds Waterstones on 22nd September 2016
This is my introduction to a local writer, Chris Nickson. He writes historical novels set in Leeds, West Yorkshire. Modern Crimes tells the fictional tale of Lottie Armstrong, one of the first policewomen.
It is 1924. Lottie Armstrong is in her twenties, married and plucky. She is a woman clearly out of her time. She enlists in the local police force in Leeds, as a WPC. As she is a woman, her main tasks are very restricted. She is on hand to deal with fallen women, school children playing truant and the odd shoplifter. She is paired with WPC Cathy Taylor. The two women are trailblazers, being the first policewomen in Leeds. There are plenty of people ready to offer an opinion on how ‘unbecoming’ it is as a job. Lottie is a pioneer, looking for opportunities and a chance to do the work the male officers take for granted.
We follow Lottie, as she becomes involved in the case of a missing girl and a murder. This is obviously out of her remit. Lottie is keen and capable, with an eye for detail. She has the capacity to get witnesses to talk and a passion for the job. This gets noticed by her superiors. Yet time and time again, she is sidelined or punished for acting to the best of her abilities.
This was masses of fun to read; with its incisive historical detail, colourful Leeds references and strong female characters. Lottie Armstrong is simply wonderful. I want to be Lottie. She is a force to be reckoned with. She would have made the perfect police officer in 2016. In 1924, she has no chance against the prevailing prejudice. I am so glad that Chris Nickson has decided to give us more Lottie, set in the 1940s. We need to know what happens next to our heroine.