Thursday, March 14, 2024

"The Scream of Sins"

Chris Nickson is the author of eleven Tom Harper mysteries, eight highly acclaimed novels in the Richard Nottingham series, and six Simon Westow mysteries. He is also a well-known music journalist. He lives in his beloved Leeds.

Nickson applied the Page 69 Test to The Scream of Sins, the newest Simon Westow mystery, and reported the following:
A part of page 69 of The Scream of Sins:
‘We’ve sent word to your parents.’

She hung her head. ‘They’ll hate me.’

‘No they won’t,’ he said softly. ‘They’ll be overjoyed to have you home again. Did you manage to sleep?’

‘Yes, sir.’ The guilt licked at her face. She was here in comfort while her sister….

He asked a few things, hoping for some sort of clue that might identify the man who’d bought Harriet or where he lived. But Emma had been too scared to notice much. They were in a barn or a stable. The air had felt wide and open, maybe a farm, not near a town. The man had worn good clothes. He seemed very old, but she couldn’t guess at his age. What would be old to a girl of eight? A big man, she thought, but no idea how tall or broad.

Simon listened, never pushing, absorbing every scrap, trying to build a picture. But in the end there was little.
This gives a teaser of one of the strands of the book. Simon Westow is a thief-taker in Leeds. Emma is a girl of eight who’s asked Simon’s young assistant Jane to help her find her younger sister, Harriet. The two were kidnapped, and Harriet has been purchased from the kidnappers by an old man.

It gives little away and makes no mention of the other strand of the plot. Do they intertwine in the end? In that regard, it gives a reader a good idea of one part of the book, and starts the journey into a very dark and violent tale that, in someways, overshadows the rest of the book – and no apologies for that. This strand is really Jane’s story, one that brings her into sharp relief, both in her relationship with Simon as well as others. It makes her realize she’s no longer the person she’s long believed herself to be, and that helps introduce another important new character.

Who are Emma and Harriet? You’ll need to read the book for that. Will there be any kind of happy ending? Not for many, maybe not even for Jane, at least in the normal way. But much of it pivots around the contents of page 69.
Visit Chris Nickson's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Constant Lovers.

The Page 69 Test: The Iron Water.

The Page 69 Test: The Hanging Psalm.

The Page 69 Test: The Molten City.

The Page 69 Test: Brass Lives.

The Page 69 Test: The Blood Covenant.

The Page 69 Test: The Dead Will Rise.

The Page 69 Test: Rusted Souls.

--Marshal Zeringue