His investigation into the death of a young woman stretches to the limit the meager resources of Richard Nottingham, Constable of Leeds.
A girl lies stabbed to death near ruined Kirkstall Abbey. Although she is apparently from a well-to-do background, no one seems in a hurry to claim the body. Finally, a wealthy farmer, Samuel Godlove, appears looking for his missing wife, who, with her maid, had gone to visit her parents and not returned. Sarah Godlove, the daughter of Lord and Lady Gibton, was much younger than her husband. Nottingham is certain that the mayor will push for a quick solution to the murder of a wealthy, aristocratic woman. Fortunately, he has help. Along with his longtime assistant John Sedgwick, Nottingham has recently taken on trial Rob Lister, the educated son of a local newspaper publisher. Rob has not been able to find a job he likes, but he quickly shows an aptitude for investigative work, and his connections among the town’s upper classes prove to be helpful in the case of the dead girl. Using all their connections, the pair discover that Sarah was forced into the marriage with Godlove by her parents, who had little money to support their title and the lifestyle they wanted. Although Godlove genuinely cared for Sarah, she had been forced to give up the man she loved. After secretly meeting her every week, he killed himself when Sarah was found dead. It won’t be easy for Nottingham to discover her killer while also dealing with gang rivalries about to erupt in violence.
Nottingham’s third (Cold, Cruel Winter, 2011, etc.) does not provide a very challenging mystery but is worth reading for the details of life in 18th-century Leeds.