Thursday, January 17, 2019

"The Hanging Psalm"

Chris Nickson is the author of the highly-acclaimed Richard Nottingham series and is also a well-known music journalist. Born and raised in Leeds, he lived in the USA for thirty years and now makes his home in England.

Nickson applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Hanging Psalm, and reported the following:
From page 69:
This White still has my daughter and now he’s got my money. He’s making me look like a fool.’

Simon wasn’t going to offer excuses; the man wouldn’t accept them.

‘It’s not over yet.’

‘You’re damned right it’s not. It won’t be until my lass is back at home and this man is hanging from the gibbet.’

If she ever comes home, Simon thought. If it’s not too late.

‘Now I know who he is, I can go after him.’

‘You’ve put up a piss-poor show so far.’

No need to reply. He wasn’t likely to change Milner’s mind.

‘He’ll send you a letter. Maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Demanding more money.’

‘He can do what he bloody well likes. He won’t see another penny until my daughter’s back with me.’ Milner raised a hand and pointed. ‘And don’t you be telling me otherwise.’
Would that make someone read on? It’s a good question, isn’t it? But really, it’s only the first part of the set-up. It’s apparent that Simon has failed. But in failing, he’s learned something important, something that changes everything – and it means he’s the only one who can put it all right.
‘Because there’s nobody else who can help you. Where else are you going to go? The constable? He’s a joke; you know that as well as I do. He’s nothing more than a title. And you’ll be lucky if you can find the Watch sober or awake. I’m what’s here, and I’ll tell you this: I’m good at what I do.’

The man set his jaw. Rage burned behind his eyes. When was the last time anyone had talked to him like this? Simon wondered.

‘Then you’d better prove you are.
And he has the chance to do it. As he says, where else can the man turn? And he’s good at what he does. He’s a thief-taker, the only one worth a damn in Leeds. He’s proved himself time and again. He’s had his failures, too, because he’s human. And he’s never been asked to find a woman before. But in 1820, women, both wives and daughters, we property. And a thief-taker finds what’s been stolen and returns it for a fee.

Now he knows who he’s up against, and he understands it’s going to be a battle like no other. So far, everything has been a prelude, a test, and he hasn’t done well. Now he needs to change that.

So yes, as Simon takes a deep breath and prepares to plunge back in, I’d follow him.
Learn more about the book and author at Chris Nickson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Constant Lovers.

The Page 69 Test: The Iron Water.

--Marshal Zeringue