Modern Crimes

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2016

Member Reviews

Chris Nickson introduces WPC Lottie Armstrong, a policewoman of 1924 in Modern Crimes.  Lottie shows she has the right stuff, but can she survive in a police force that doesn't want women as police officers?  Read and find out.
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Charlotte “Lottie” Armstrong and her partner Cathy Taylor are the first two women police constables on the Leeds police force in 1924. Ever conscious that they are being observed for any slipup that will tell the department that women aren’t fit for police duty, Lottie and Cathy chafe at the simplistic tasks they are assigned involving women and children. Then they are asked to track down a girl who fled from a Magdalen home for unwed mothers. When they do find her, she has almost been killed by the same person who has murdered the father of her baby. The unborn child also dies. When the murder case is turned over to “real” policemen, Lottie is disappointed–until the attending detective enlists her help.

Nickson paints a vivid portrait of postwar Leeds, a gritty industrial city, and its back alleys, fast living young men and the women who love them, in the postwar years. Poverty is very evident on Lottie and Cathy’s beat. Lottie meets abortionists and criminals, and enlists the aid of “invert” Auntie Betty (a lesbian) to help her find a woman possibly associated with the crime. The police station is no less an obstacle for her, with men who believe women have no place in police work and state it plainly.

Lottie herself is a very likeable character, pragmatic and thorough, nonjudgmental and shrewd, the ideal candidate for a policewoman’s job. She and Cathy share an excellent working relationship. Detective Sergeant McMillan is also an excellent supporting character. He’s willing to give Lottie a chance to do police work now that she’s proven herself competent, yet he still has certain reservations about others who do not meet his norms, like Auntie Betty, another fascinating character.

I have to admit I was a bit nonplussed by Lottie’s husband, Geoff. He is not only fine with her working, but actively encourages her to do so, and thrills in her successes. He is so supportive he seems a little too good to be true!

Lottie will indeed “get her man,” but only after a lot of hard work, investigation, walking, and harassment. The book is involving, absorbing, and a marvelous trip back in time. However, the promotion of this book as first in a series set after World War I is a bit of misnomer. You will see when you get to the conclusion.
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This is the first book in a new series by Chris Nickson, who is fast becoming one of my favorite authors of historic fiction. Having read "Dark Water", I was eager to start this series at the beginning Charlotte Armstrong, "Lottie", is one of the first members of the WPC, women police constables. Relegated to helping women and children, Lottie gets the chance to work on a "real investigation." There are murders and disappearances, with Lottie using her considerable powers of deduction to help the men solve the crime, sometimes at considerable danger to herself. All of the characters are well developed, and I found myself wanting Lottie to succeed, and overcome considerable obstacles place in her way. All in all it was a satisfying read, and though the ending was unexpected, I will continue to follow Lottie in her future adventures with Detective McMillan.
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I loved this book! The details in this book, made me envision that I was right there with Lottie and Cathie on patrol. The attention to even the smallest thing made the experience wonderful.. It was an easy read, flowing from page to page. I can not wait for the next book to come out so I can go buy it!
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MODERN CRIMES (WPC Lottie Armstrong: #1) Written by Chris Nickson

JANUARY 1, 2017; 288 Pages (History/Mystery Press)

Genre: historical fiction, mystery, britain

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY)

RATING: ★★★★

Following World War I, Lottie Armstrong is working as a Woman Police Constable in Leeds at Milgarth Police Station.  Her husband, Geoff was injured in battle and they find out they cannot have children. She decides that working as a WPC is what she needs.  Her husband is very encouraging of her job and the time it entails.  Along with her partner, and the only other WPC, Cathy Taylor the two patrol Leeds, mostly interacting with women and children.  The "real" crimes are handled by their male counterparts.  When a young pregnant teen runs away from a special home for unmarried pregnant women, Lottie and Cathy are put on the case.  When the case turns into a murder and attempted murder, the CID take over.  Sargent McMillan thinks Lottie is a good investigator so tries to get her involved when he can.   As the two get further into the case, it seems like Lottie is the only one getting results.  Can she help solve the case before the Inspector throws her off?

This is my first book by Chris Nickson, but I have seen his other books and have been interested in trying one.  I really enjoyed this book.  It was a well-written historical mystery.  Nickson sucked me into the time period and provided enough information that you got how things were in those times and in Leeds.  I really liked the characters and how they interacted in this novel.  Geoff is such a sweetheart and an early feminist!  He is so supportive of his wife's career and how she feels about it.  He is not jealous when she is out late with McMillan and encourages her to what she thinks is best.  I liked the partnership of Lottie and Cathy as they are different but work so well together.  This book has a steady pace that kept me intrigued.  I found the history of women in the police force also very interesting.  I want to know more about how women were able to do this job when everything was against them doing it.  I recommend this novel to historical fiction, mystery and feminism.  I am down for the next book and am looking forward to trying another novel by Nickson!
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Modern Crimes by Chris Nickson is the first book in A WPC Lottie Armstrong Mystery series.  Charlotte “Lottie” Armstrong is a WPC (Women’s Police Constable) in Leeds, England.  It is 1924 and Lottie is one of two female constables at the Millgarth Police Station.  Lottie and her partner, Cathy Taylor are assigned the case of a missing, pregnant eighteen-year-old Jocelyn Hill.  Jocelyn disappeared from Mrs. Allen’s home for unwed girls where she was staying (forced to stay by her mother).  When the case leads them to Ray Coleman, the pair are forced to turn the case over to male detective.  Female constables are only allowed to investigate cases involving women and children.  Lottie gets a great opportunity when she gets to tag along with Constable Tennison to question Mr. Coleman.  It is the first time that a male and female constable have been paired together.  Constable Tennison discovers Lottie’s ability to ask intelligent and probing questions (and to know when a suspect is lying).  This provides Lottie the opportunity to work with CID (Criminal Investigation Division) and Sergeant McMillan.  This case will take Lottie across Leeds from one of the richest homes to an establishment that makes Sgt. McMillan extremely uncomfortable.  Lottie will need to keep her wits about her as she sets out to find the perpetrator and fight against male prejudice.  See how WPC Charlotte Armstrong fares in Modern Crimes.

Modern Crimes is an intriguing story that captured my attention from the very first page and held it until the very end.  The novel is well-written, easy to read, and has a good pace.  I found Modern Crimes to be well researched.  The author did a splendid job at capturing time and place.  I liked that Lottie Armstrong is a strong main character with keen intelligence.  I give Modern Crimes 4.5 out of 5 stars.  Modern Crimes has a good mystery that will keep most readers guessing until the reveal.  The only thing that I found disappointing was the ending (I cannot say more without spoiling it for you).  Modern Crimes is a British novel so it contains British terminology and slang. I cannot wait to read the next book in A WPC Lottie Armstrong Mystery series (it will be out in the fall of 2017).
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