The Year of the Gun will be published by The History Press on 1 September 2017 and is available to buy here
1944: Twenty years after WPC Lottie Armstrong was dismissed from the Leeds police force, she’s back, now a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps.
Detective Chief Superintendent McMillan is now head of CID, trying to keep order with a depleted force as many of the male officers have enlisted. This hasn’t stopped the criminals, however, and as the Second World War rages around them, can they stop a blackout killer with a taste for murder?
Previously in the series: Modern Crimes Book 1
We first met Lottie Armstrong back in Modern Crimes. She was one of the first WPCs in Leeds. A delightful character. Brave and smart. Lottie returns for a second adventure in The Year of the Gun.
Time has passed for Lottie. It is now 1944. Lottie is a widow, in her forties. She is employed by McMillan to drive him around. McMillan has risen to the dizzy heights of Detective Chief Superintendent. This means he is pretty much in charge of things for the whole city of Leeds. It is wartime. Leeds is full of American troops. Locals are struggling with rationing. The black market is flourishing. Crime is on the up. And there is a killer out there, targeting women linked to the services. Can McMillan and Lottie track down a murderer?
Chris Nickson gives us a special slice of Second World War life in Leeds. It is a time we are all familiar with, due to the many films and documentaries out there. We know about life under rationing, devastating bombing raids and the glamour of American soldiers hitting our shores. It all felt familiar to me. We recognise bleak austerity, terrible food and the pain of loss being a part of life. On top of this, Nickson gives us his unique brand of Leeds. He has a great way of capturing the city and making it come alive. If you know Leeds at all, you will find plenty to smile about. Kirkstall Abbey becomes a crime scene.
I loved meeting Lottie again. She is kind of character, you don’t forget easily. In The Year of The Gun, she is out there providing practical support to McMillan. She drives him around and acts as a sidekick. They are friends. She gives him her opinion on crime scenes and talks unofficially to witnesses. Lottie shines in this role. She is a natural. It is wonderful to see her intelligence appreciated. She relishes the challenge of working with McMillan to solve the killings in the city.
The Year of the Gun is a smashing read, with plenty to appeal to both historical crime fans and Leeds locals. Chris Nickson captures the tone and mood of the 1940s accurately. You can feel the underlying pessimism and the desire for it all to be over. I could easily imagine Lottie in her uniform, travelling across the city in a Super Snipe. That would be such a cool job to have, during the war. I was excited by the escalating tension, as Lottie and McMillan get closer and closer to the truth. Yes, crime in the 1940s isn’t pretty. It is brutal. Trust me, this is a book you need to get your hands on. Top crime alert! Recommended.