20 Feb 2014



SOURCE: A GoodReads win.

London, 1727 - and Tom Hawkins is about to fall from his heaven of card games, brothels and coffee-houses to the hell of a debtors' prison.

The Marshalsea is a savage world of its own, with simple rules: those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of the gaol's ruthless governor and his cronies.

The trouble is, Tom Hawkins has never been good at following rules - even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the Captain's beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: to the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet.

Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon, Tom's choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder - or be the next to die.

...... GoodReads description.

FIRST SENTENCE/ MEMORABLE MOMENT: A paperback Uncorrected Proof Copy. I've been asked not to use any quotes. Publication dates are 27th March for the hardback copy and 11th September for the paperback.

MY THOUGHTS: Undecided as how exactly to rate this debut novel. As the first in a planned series of crime novels set in the 18th century I felt The Devil In The Marshalsea worked incredibly well as a historical/social novel (for those sites requiring a star rating, a solid five stars) but (though still a most respectable three point five stars) not quite so well as a 'crime thriller'/'whodunnit'. And as for the romantic aspect of the novel? Very much a secondary feature of the book, whilst I didn't think it distracted from the story nor did it particularly add anything.

Obviously meticulously researched. Awash with wonderfully well drawn characters, many of them real, others loosely based on actual individuals. 
Given that the author states 'the conditions described are taken from first-hand accounts' though 'if anything the reality was even worse' one is left in no doubt as to just how grim things must have been for the men, women and children (yes, children) incarcerated in what can only be described as the living hell so beautifully re-created here.

Highly readable. Such is the depth of Antonia Hodgson's feel for the period that she brings the people and places to life. This is definitely a series of books I'll be keeping a look out for.

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission. In addition I would also urge that if you are reading this on any other page you contact the original blog owner/reviewer.


Barbara Fisher said...

Hi Tracy, the title alone is enough to make me want to read it, but I also loved your review. This sounds like one not to be missed.

Kelly said...

Based on the five-star aspect, I think I would enjoy this very much. Probably not available to put on my wish list at Amazon, yet, so perhaps I'll remember to look for it in the future.

Gina R said...

It does lend it an air of mystery....not certain it'll make my wish list, but definitely enjoyed your thoughts!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Oh sometimes I enjoy a well researched historical novel. This sounds good and I think I would be glad that she doesn't include all the bad stuff that happens. I can guess that it would be worse.

So many books, so little time said...

As you know historical hasn't always been my first pic but I find I have been enjoying them more the past few years. Great review and I think I will keep an eye out for this one!

Lainy http://www.alwaysreading.net

Claudine G. said...

'Marshalsea' reminds me of Little Dorrit, and the synopsis sounds interesting. I'll keep a lookout for this one, Tracy.

Suko said...

Lovely review as usual, Tracy. I do like the sound of this "highly readable" book.

Betty Manousos said...

it sounds like a good read.

i think i'd enjoy this one very much! thanks for another brilliant review, tracy!


Cherie Reich said...

Thank you for the review, Tracy! It does sound like a really good read.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I have this one on 'request pending' from the publisher, via NetGalley.

After your excellent review and recommendation, I am hoping that approval is forthcoming and fairly soon!


Naida said...

This sounds intense and I do enjoy a good historical.

Jess@Fairday's Blog said...

Your review made me very curious and the amount of research sounds amazing. Glad you are looking forward to the rest of the series. Will be keeping my eye out for this one. :)