Review: Skin Like Silver by Chris Nickson 5* #3 Tom Harper Series!

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Skin Like Silver by Chris Nickson  5/5*

The blurb:

The third intriguing historical mystery to feature Detective Inspector Tom Harper

Leeds, England. October, 1891. An unclaimed parcel at the Central Post Office is discovered to contain the decomposing body of a baby boy. It’s a gruesome case for DI Tom Harper. Then a fire during the night destroys half the railway station. The next day a woman’s body is found in the rubble. But Catherine Carr didn’t die in the blaze: she’d been stabbed to death – and Harper has to find her killer.
The estranged wife of a wealthy industrialist, Catherine had been involved with the Leeds Suffragist Society, demanding votes for women, the same organization for which Harper’s wife Annabelle has just become a speaker. Were Catherine’s politics the cause of her death? Or is the husband she abandoned behind it? But when her brother escapes from the asylum and steals a shotgun, Harper has to race to find the answers.

My review:

Skin like silver is the third novel in the Tom Haper series set in Victorian Leeds. The novel opens up in 1891 with Detective inspector Tom Harper tackling a tough case of a missing woman and a dead baby. We learn that Billy Reed (Tom’s former partner) has moved on to the fire service following the aftermath of their last case. Tom harper is called out to a raging fire at the railway station, which leaves a fireman dead. In the wreckage of the fire a young woman’s body is recovered and it soon becomes apparent that neither the fire nor smoke inhalation was the cause of death. With only his constable Ash to assist, Inspector Hill insists that Billy reed be seconded back to the police service to assist Tom Harper with the case.

With Tom & Billy reunited the case makes fast progress. We learn that the victim Catherine Carr has strong links to the Suffrage & socialist causes making a stir in Leeds. This novel has strong theme of ‘votes for women’ and it is refreshing to read a novel so detailed about the early factual women whom started the movement. The novel is also littered with northern dialogue, making this novel not only authentic but a thoroughly enjoyable read. As the novel develops we met real life suffragette Isabelle Ford, a local wealthy Quaker. We also meet Catherine’s husband, known to be a drunkard and abusive to his wife.

Tom’s wife Annabelle plays a huge part in all the novels so far in the series. But in this one she really excels herself as a character. Annabelle herself has been quite taken up with the women’s votes movement. The novel also reflects on what the vote would mean to so many women in the city of Leeds. Although Leeds is a large community, we learn that it is one of great diversity and quite a divide between those who have & those who do not. A community that also knows what’s going on in each other’s lives.

The case progresses and we go on a journey through the lifestyle of the Victorian era. The struggle of the women, often having to resort to stealing or prostitution just to get by. The evidence leads the detectives all the way to the West Yorkshire Pauper & Lunatic Asylum. When working girls are attacked, Tom has to race to find the culprit for all the local unrest. With local budding MP’s desperate for power & influence keen to block the women’s vote and the sinful working girls that line the streets. This novel is packed full of characters. The plot build and build to a violent ending, one where the true evil of personal vendettas is laid bare. 5*
*If I had to pick themes for this author to write, this novel would be it. It is without a doubt my favourite by the author so far!

Q&A with the Fabulous Debut Author Emily Elgar!

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After reading If You Knew Her by Emily Elgar, I immediately contacted Emily to see if she would be willing to feature in a blog Q&A…………I was very lucky & she agreed!
This Q&A will be a part 1 of 2. As I hope to feature Emily again in the summer for the release of her debut novel in paperback. The novel is curently available as an Ebook.

I absolutley loved this novel as it was a break from the mould. It essentailly focuses on 3 central characters. It reminded me very much of Tess Gerritsen’s medical thrillers! I would hugely reccomend and rated this 5* in my review! Huge thanks to the author for being willing to trust a newbie blogger with the first Q&A! I can see this novel being a huge hit for the summer/beach reads upon it’s release in papreback on 24th August! 🙂

Q&A with Emily Elgar:

Q) Congratulations on your new debut novel & I wish you much success in your future writing career. Can you talk us your experience of the process from idea, to writing & to publication day? Is it nerve racking? Exciting?

A) Thank you so much!

In terms of ideas, one of my characters Cassie Jensen, followed me around for a few years before I realised she was a character in a book! I heard a great ethics programme on Radio 4 about a woman in her – thankfully very unusual – situation. So her story line was the first to take shape in my mind. I really wanted to tell the story from an unusual perspective, which is when Frank slowly took shape. Alice is really the person who knits their two worlds together as well as obviously occupying her own story as well. I actually wrote what is now the prologue at about 3am when I couldn’t sleep. I submitted my work to my peers on the Faber Academy and then signed with my brilliant agent Nelle Andrew at PFD a few weeks later. Nelle really cracked the whip, firing me up to write the first manuscript whilst also working full time. Nelle sent this first manuscript to a few publishers – it was rejected by all but one, Lucy Malagoni at Little, Brown who invited Nelle and I in for a meeting. She said the manuscript needed a lot of work but very happily, she made me an offer and I was delighted to accept! What followed was two years of incredibly hard work adding characters, taking them out again, adding narrative voices and rewriting the ending more times then I can remember. It was gruelling, but working with such an excellent editor who was fully committed to me as a writer and the book made a whole world of difference to the experience. I doubt I would have managed it without her.

My book won’t be widely available until the paperback publication in August. In terms of how I feel about publication, I find I pinball from wanting to hide in a tiny cupboard to wanting to shout from the hills ‘my book is being published!’ So yeah, I’m a little all over the place at present!

 

Q) One thing I loved about ‘if you knew her’ was that it was medically based as opposed to a police procedural. This made it relatable and believable to the reader. As I wrote in my review it was reminiscent of Tess Gerrisen medical thrillers. Was it your intention to offer something different & unique to the crime/thriller/psychological genre?

A) I don’t think I actively decided to write something different to a police procedural. Because Cassie was the first character to take shape in my mind, it made sense for me to have her main carer, Alice, playing the ‘investigator’ role in the novel. It was really important for me that Alice was accessible, both Frank and Cassie are in such extremely difficult and thankfully, rare situations, I wanted the reader to have someone they felt they could relate to.
Q) The Characterisation of Alice, frank & Cassie was brilliantly written and I wondered if they are inspired by real people?

A) It’s an interesting question; as my family and friends read the novel, they often say they have spotted some ‘real people’ moments. I suppose there are ‘glimmers’ of real people but they’re not inspired or based on any one real… thankfully!
Q) What are your favourite books? Authors? And genres?

A) I like to read a wide range of books. I recently read The Homemaker by Dorothea Canfield Fisher, a gentle but acutely observed and beautifully written book. I loved it. I also read The Girls by Emma Kline recently and thought it was exceptional. There are so many excellent debuts out at present… I have a huge pile in my room! I also adore – Kate Atkinson, John Steinbeck and Margaret Atwood.
Q) This is your debut novel and I for one, certainly hope to see more. What are your future writing plans?

 

A) Well I’m delighted to be working with my agent on book two… it’s shaping up rather nicely so far. I always think choosing to write a book is like entering into a long-term relationship. You know you’re going to have to live, work and sleep with it – so I’m very mindful that it has to feel right…. So far, so good!