Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gods of Gold by Chris Nickson

Rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Netgalley
Read: August 28, 2014

June 1890. Leeds is close to breaking point. The gas workers are on strike. Supplies are dangerously low. Factories and businesses are closing; the lamps are going unlit at night. Detective Inspector Tom Harper has more urgent matters on his mind. The beat constable claims eight-year-old Martha Parkinson has disappeared. Her father insists she s visiting an aunt in Halifax but Harper doesn't believe him. When Col Parkinson is found dead the following morning, the case takes on an increasing desperation. But then Harper s search for Martha is interrupted by the murder of a replacement gas worker, stabbed to death outside the Town Hall while surrounded by a hostile mob. Pushed to find a quick solution, Harper discovers that there s more to this killing than meets the eye and that there may be a connection to Martha s disappearance.

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By all appearances, Chris Nickson's Gods of Gold looked to be a slam dunk. Gorgeous cover art aside, the jacket description gave me the sort of thrill I get watching Ripper Street and that's never a bad thing in my book. Unfortunately, reality failed to meet expectation and I can't say I was particularly impressed with the title. 

For the record I liked the story. Martha's disappearance paired with Leeds' 1890 gas strike made an interesting combination of subject matter and drama. Of the cast, I found Annabelle Atkinson most amusing, but the novel's lead, Detective Inspector Tom Harper, was far too straight-laced and virtuous for my taste. 

Most of my difficulties, however, stem from the writing style and an overall lack of depth. The characters are too straightforward, the plot elementary and the dialogue wooden. I liked the idea and what Nickson was attempting to do with the story, but the telling simply didn't work for me.

Not a complete wash, but Gods of Gold is definitely a title I'd be hard-pressed to recommend.  

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"What do you think he did with her?"
Harper waited. He hadn't said it, didn't want to say it, but knew it needed to be out in the open. 
"I think he sold her."
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